Police in a suburb of Providence, Rhode Island, launched an investigation Monday into a suspected hate crime after a swastika was found scrawled outside a local synagogue.
Members of Congregation Ohawe Sholam in Pawtucket found the Nazi symbol spray-painted in red on a sign outside the house of worship over the weekend.
Pawtucket, situated just north of Providence’s heavily Jewish East Side, is home to a small Jewish community and just one synagogue. Sunday’s incident was the latest in a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in Providence, including anti-Jewish graffiti daubed at Brown University and fliers handed out around the East Side bearing anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“This is a symbol of bigots and bullies,” Rabbi Raphie Schochet told the press outside the synagogue Monday morning. “This is an act of cowardice.”
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien offered the city’s assistance in cleaning the graffiti and voiced the community’s “sadness and frustration,” the Providence Journal reported.
“This was clearly a heinous act that will not be tolerated. We are here to address these types of issues. We’re not going to accept them. We are treating this as a hate crime and will be very aggressive,” he said.
The Anti-Defamation League also issued a statement condemning the incident. “Attacks on places of worship are intended to intimidate community members and it is therefore critical to remain united in opposing all forms of hate and bigotry,” the ADL said. It commended the Pawtucket Police Department’s swift action to address the issue and search for the culprits.