Police are investigating an anti-Semitic hate crime after a dozen swastikas were found spray-painted at a youth athletic facility.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, Port Washington Police Athletic League Director Rob Elkins found multiple messages of hate inside the Sunset Park clubhouse after a group broke into the building, destroying equipment and vandalizing the building.
Officials said that the vandals broke in through a back door of the clubhouse, at which point they found red spray paint and began tagging everything from field equipment and bathroom walls to doors, and over “thank you” cards that were delivered over the summer.
Port Washington Police District Chief Robert DelMuro initially said that the department wasn’t going to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime, but doubled back on Thursday.
“Unquestionably, a swastika is a deplorable symbol of hate,” he said in a statement. “I attempted to explain that this hate crime differs from many others in that the symbols were placed in the interior of the building, rather than on the exterior, and were painted using materials that were already in the building and were accessed after the building was burglarized.
“Of course, that does not diminish the severity of the crime,” he continued. “It is a hate crime and is being investigated as such.”
In a statement following the revelation of the vandalism, State Sen. Anna Kaplan expressed relief that the police chief reversed course and is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
“I’m disgusted by the despicable and cowardly act of anti-Semitic, racist vandalism that took place at the Port Washington PAL clubhouse this weekend,” she said. “I’m relieved that Chief DelMuro agrees, and has clarified his statement so that the community can have faith that this horrendous act will be thoroughly and properly investigated as a hate crime.
“We must never accept anti-Semitism and hate in our community in any form, and we must always work to eradicate it when we find it in our midst.”
The estimated cost to repair the damage done is reportedly upwards of $50,000 A GoFundMe fundraising campaign has been started as the PAL looks to replace damaged items and repair the damages.
The vandalism incident remains under investigation by police.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.