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Monday, September 24, 2012

Maine - Bangor Police Investigating Swastikas Found on Local Synagogues

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Police are trying to figure out who painted offensive drawings over the weekend on two synagogues. An investigation is also underway to determine if it was a hate crime.

"I think it's a shocking and hurtful symbol and that's how people responded to it," said Rabbi Justin Goldstein of the Congregation Beth Israel.

He arrived at his synagogue Saturday morning and found swastikas, upside down crosses and 666 spray painted on the building.

The rabbi said, "My first reaction was surprise. City like this you don't expect to see things like that."

Across the street at the Beth Abraham synagogue a similar display was found. Both are believed to be painted sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.

"I'm going to presume that this was not ideologically motivated," said Rabbi Goldstein.

According to him, one of the swastikas was drawn incorrectly, which he hopes is an indicator that this was not a hate crime, but rather a senseless act of vandalism.

He said, "This should be a motivating force in the community to confront our growing problem of vandalism."

Bangor police are investigating the incident, one of several cases of graffiti vandalism they had in just two days.

Sgt. Paul Edwards said, "We received over the weekend at least seven counting the synagogues, so it seems to be this tagging, this type of behavior, has increased."

Goldstein told us they've had problems with graffiti before, but never something so offensive.

"It represents a line crossed that is different than typical vandalism," the congregation's leader said.

Bangor police officials said the person or persons responsible could be charged with criminal mischief for the graffiti, but it would be up to the Attorney General's office whether or not to classify the incident as a hate crime.

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