Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti were found daubed on a suburban Washington, DC, Jewish community center and a nearby church, local authorities said on Tuesday.
Fairfax County Police spokeswoman said an investigation had been opened into the vandalism incidents at the JCC of Northern Virginia and the Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale, Virginia.
“Hitler was right,” swastikas and the “SS” symbol were found spray-painted on the exterior of the JCC building.
Jeff Dannick, the JCC’s director general, said discovering the graffiti on the first day of the holiday of Passover was particularly disheartening.
“As painful as this is, it’s even more painful for it to happen on Passover,” Dannick told NBC Washington.
“We retell that story generation to generation every year so that we never forget,” he told the Washington Post later on Tuesday. “It’s a painful reminder of how ugly and dangerous the world can be, but also how we can overcome it.”
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) April 12, 2017
Less than a mile away, a UCC church building was also vandalized with swastikas, along with homophobic and Islamophobic slogans.
“Defend America; No Muslims,” was spray-painted across the church door. The words “Jesus knows no traitors” was written over the church’s Holy Week schedule and a sign that read “Say NO to anti-Muslim bigotry” was crossed out.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see this kind of thing happen today,” Rev. Dr. David Lindsey told the local NBC station.
Lindsey said he suspected his church was targeted because of its openness to diversity.
JCC and church community members began to remove the graffiti on Tuesday.
Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright said the crimes occurred between 1 and 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, and that law enforcement was reviewing surveillance footage in both cases in an effort to catch the perpetrators.
“We are investigating it. It is a crime – not only to spray paint – but it’s a more severe penalty if the crime is bias-motivated like it is in these cases and we are working very diligently,” Wright told local reporters.