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Summit Police Investigate Swastika Graffiti on Resident's Property

The symbol was drawn on garage wall on Passaic Avenue, according to police, who say no evidence has surfaced that would qualify the act as a hate crime.

A swastika was found on the side of a Passaic Avenue resident’s detached garage on Dec. 16 around 10:30 p.m. in an incident which is currently being investigated as an act of graffiti and criminal mischief by Summit Police.

Sgt. Peter Frank said 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. He said the couple living there has young children and the family is part Jewish, part Christian.

“It’s not like it was done just on the street on the garage front door. It was actually on the rear of the garage on the actual property,” Frank said. “At this point, we’re investigating it as an incident of graffiti. However, if other evidence turns up that this was done as a hate crime, we’ll pursue that fully. But at this time, we have no leads.”

Frank said without further evidence, there is no way to classify this as a hate crime. 

“We’re not sure if it was done by someone who knows them, we’re not sure if it was done as an act of graffiti — someone being stupid, a kid — or if it was something done as what we consider a bias crime,” Frank explained.

Frank said one of the residents noticed the graffiti when walking past the garage on Dec. 16. However, the exact day and time that this incident occurred is unknown at this time.

Any residents with information about this incident may contact Sgt. Frank or Detective Christopher Madina at (908) 273-0051.

B. O'Connell Bator December 19, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I find it hard to think of this as an act of graffiti. Someone walked on this property to send a pointed message to the residents. Someone who knew the residents and knew that one of the parents is Jewish. The people on this street and the greater Summit community should be outraged by this behavior. A fine, young family should not be bullied and mistreated in this hateful way.
Leonard Simon December 19, 2012 at 08:19 PM
As a symbol of mass genocide, the drawing of a swastika on the property of a family that is Jewish can only be construed as a hate crime, and not as an "incident of graffiti". An assertion that a random individual would pick this particular house of a family who is part Jewish, enter their property and leave such a symbol on the garage side where the family could see, is either a hugely convenient coincidence or, more likely, simply ludicrous. Until such blatantly biased acts are recognized and pursued for what they are, anti-Semitism will continue unabated.
hltb88 December 19, 2012 at 08:27 PM
In my opinion, every swastika drawn since 1939 is a symbol of hate- and intended as so. Declaring this "criminal mischief" or simply "graffiti," without a statement of intolerance for such a behavior, does a disservice to the community. Failing to see the hate in this act is surprising to me, particularly in a town still reeling from the stabbing death of Mr. Mazariego-Torres in 2010- and of course, a town that joins the nation in mourning the victims of senseless violence in Newtown, CT. I think our Police Dept should be the first line of defense in helping our community stop hate BEFORE it gets violent. Legal definitions aside- let's call this what it was- a hate crime.
J Lagache December 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Difficult to believe that this is anything but a hate crime when the location was so deliberately chosen - facing the residents' property directly and not facing the street. Taken within the context of the current climate of violence that reigns (i.e. swastika appearing within 48 hours of Newtown, CT), this cowardly and aggressive gesture should be taken with the utmost seriousness. This is not a random act by a bored teenager.
MMP December 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM
This is not an act of graffiti nor an action by a bored teenager. This is obviously a hate crime and an act of anti-semitism. The reporter should be ashamed of herself for reporting this as anything less and should be put on "journalistic probation" for careless and unprofessional writing. It is I fathomable how in this day and age anyone can view that hateful symbol as anything other than what it is universally known for. The town of Summit should rally behind the victims of this crime instead of brushing it under the rug. Caitlin, visit your public library and get yourself educated before writing another article!
J Richter December 25, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I agree with J. Lagache, this "vandalism" seems quite personally directed and extremely unpleasant. I hope Summit police are taking this as seriously.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Hi MMP, I'm sorry you feel this way about the article. However, Caitlin reached out to the police department for information on this incident and much of the information you are referring to is directly quoted from Sgt. Peter Frank. All of the information about this incident currently not being classified as a hate crime was from the police department. Caitlin is only reporting on what she was told by police.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Hi all, Here is a statement from the family who lives at this residence.. http://summit.patch.com/articles/summit-family-responds-to-swastika-graffiti-through-spokesman
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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