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Summit Family Responds To Swastika Graffiti Through Spokesman

Residents found a swastika drawn on their detached garage Tuesday. While family wishes to remain anonymous, Rev. Fletcher Harper, a family member, speaks on their behalf.

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.

KWC December 22, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I have mixed feelings about publicization of incidents like this. You should probably deny the moron who did this the attention he was seeking.
Seabury Moulton January 01, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Maybe we should have kept quiet about the Holocaust as well? This was drawn on private property where no one could see it, a Threatening universal symbol of Hate, implying a lack of personal safety on a family in this town. Sweep it under the rug KWC? Our former Mayor would have led the town on Solidarity, emphasizing an Intolerance for this prejudice against diversity in our town, the Police would have been shaking down the town since it occurred on the 16th under the last two regimes, the Interfaith Council would be active, the town Bias Crimes Unit would be out front. There are many citizens and Jewish groups from this state outraged by this Swastika being diminished as anything other than a Hate Crime, as the Interfaith family states above, and what is the Town Leadership doing to prevent what might happen next? "deny the moron"? The Chief of Police is the only one who seems to have any compassion.
ABC January 07, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I am absolutely flabbergasted that this has not been taken up by government officials! I live in NYC and and sure that Mayor Bloomberg would not have taken this lightly. Where is the Summit Mayor? Could she be that busy that she has no time for take on an egregious hate crime that can affect way more people than this family? And what is this teaching the children? It's ok to walk on someone's property and draw whatever you want, including hateful, evil symbols? Hmmm, I'd say community outrage is lacking in Summit!

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