Thugs scrawled two swastikas in Carroll Park this week, but police are not investigating it as a hate crime.
Park keepers quickly scrubbed away the anti-Semitic icons on Tuesday after The Brooklyn Paper notified officers in the 76th Precinct that the World War I monument in the neighborhood park had been defaced with black magic marker.
Locals were appalled that vandals emblazoned the logo of the Third Reich — likely during the Passover holiday, no less — in the popular park, which is bounded by Court, Smith, President and Carroll streets.
“It’s awful and shocking,” said Hope Wurmfeld, who was in the park on Tuesday. “I can’t imagine why anybody would do such a thing. It seems like a neighborhood where everybody is caring.”
But police said that the crime is a simple case of vandalism because there’s no clear indication that the culprits painted one of history’s most notorious symbols of hatred were motivated by prejudice.
“The mere display of a swastika is not necessarily a hate crime,” said Captain Kenneth Corey, the commanding officer in the 76th Precinct.
“The initial impulse [not to classify it as a hate crime] was because of where it is, because it doesn’t appear to target a specific group and because it appears to be juvenile graffiti,” he added.
Corey said such vandalism would be a more clear-cut act of bias if the hooligans tagged a synagogue or wrote anti-Jewish slurs in addition to the venal Nazi emblem.
Jewish organizations said that a swastika is inherently anti-Semitic, but understood that the “hate crime” classification may have a different standard.
“There’s no question that it’s a symbol of hate,” said Joel Levy, the New York director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“The complicating matter is that young people are using swastikas as a symbol of rebellion. There’s no actual hate [in them], and they might not be aware of the its deeper meaning.”
©2009 Community News Group
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