A Summit resident found a swastika on the side of his Passaic Avenue detached garage on Dec. 16, an incident that is still being investigated as an act of graffiti and criminal mischief by Summit Police.
The swastika measured about 1 ½ feet by 1 ½ feet, and was drawn in thin black lines on the rear of the detached garage, facing the resident’s property, meaning the person who drew the swastika was on the resident’s actual property, Summit Police Sgt. Peter Frank told Patch on Dec. 18.
The family who resides at this residence wishes to remain anonymous. But Rev. Fletcher Harper, a member of this family, is serving as their spokesman.
“It’s a combination of both heartbreaking and absolutely appalling. Someone put up a swastika on a wall less than 10 feet away from where their children’s swing set is. It’s just absolutely horrific and so unbelievable as to defy imagination,” Harper said. “They are very grateful for the way in which the police in Summit have been really, really responsive, and have followed up very quickly and very aggressively. They are very grateful for that. Otherwise, it’s an absolutely awful and appalling situation.”
Harper said the family consists of a husband, a wife, and two children under the age of 10.
“One of the adults is Jewish and the other is Christian,” Harper said. “[The swastika] is one of the most total symbols of hatred with a very specific ethnic dimension to it that is just undeniable. To have it happen in the year 2012 in a supposedly educated part of the country and of the state, it just boggles the mind. It’s hard to fathom.”
The symbol was drawn less than 10 feet away from a swing set in the residents’ backyard and Harper said it would have been impossible for the person who drew the swastika to not see the swing set.
Harper said he admires the way the family is dealing with this incident.
“They are concerned, they are trying to follow up responsibly, they are trying to manage it with their kids in a way that is the right way to handle that and spares the kids from having to deal with stuff they shouldn’t have to deal with,” he explained.
At this time, Summit Police are pursuing this as an act of graffiti and criminal mischief because without additional evidence, there is no way to classify this as a “hate crime.”
"My perspective and the family’s perspective is that it was a hateful act and it’s a hateful symbol, which is universally recognized as such," he said.
Sgt. Frank said they don’t have any leads as to who may have drawn the swastika on the garage wall. Harper said based on the situation, he’s intuited that the family doesn’t think it was anyone they personally know.
“I think in a situation such as this, one always thinks that there is a reasonable likelihood that there’s someone that one knows, that this wasn’t just out of the blue. But that said, I don’t think the family has any sense that anybody they know would have done something like this,” Harper explained. “I think to do something like this is so far beyond the pale that I don’t think they would’ve thought anyone they knew was capable of it.”
Any residents with information about this incident may contact Sgt. Frank or Detective Christopher Madina at (908) 273-0051.