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North Shore rallies against hate in Marblehead

Journal Staff

Rabbi David Cohen-Henriquez of Temple Sinai addressed a large gathering on Devereux Beach in Marblehead in defiance of anti-Semitic and racist graffiti sprayed on the causeway wall. Photos by Steven A. Rosenberg/Journal Staff

JULY 13, 2017 – MARBLEHEAD – Marblehead police continue to investigate who may have painted a slew of anti-Semitic and hate slogans on the Marblehead Neck causeway two weeks ago. While an award of $3,000 has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case, there have been no arrests to date.

“It certainly is malicious destruction, there were specific people named,” said Marblehead Police Chief Robert Picariello, who added that Marblehead police detectives are leading the investigation. Picariello, who declined to provide a police report to the Journal about the incident, said the graffiti was reported to the police on the evening of June 30, and was removed a day later by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

The graffiti, scrawled in black on the causeway wall, included “End the Jew,” “KKK is here,” and also had two references to Israel: a Jewish star was circled, and drawn with a line through it, along with IDF, which was also circled and crossed out with a line. In addition, there was a derogatory remark about Marblehead native and US representative Seth Moulton. Also, a campaign slogan that President Trump used repeatedly was scrawled onto the causeway: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN TRUMP.”

This was the third anti-Semitic incident that was reported in Marblehead over the past year. Last August, the police were summoned to an athletic field at Marblehead High School where they discovered that the phrase “JEWS DID 9/11” had been raked into the infield dirt. Also last year, swastikas were found painted in public places, including a Marblehead basketball court. To date, there have been no arrests in those cases.

Over 200 people attended the rally against hate in Marblehead.

The incident also followed other disturbing incidents in the area that targeted Jews or Jewish institutions. In April, a swastika was drawn on the Salem Common bandstand. Last month, a man was arrested in Boston after allegedly smashing a rock through a glass pane at the New England Holocaust Memorial. Also over the last year, swastikas were drawn on public properties in Swampscott, Newton and in several other communities. On an outside wall of a Beverly synagogue, a dollar sign was painted next to the words “Merry Christmas.”

After the latest round of hate graffiti, town officials and a host of elected state and local representatives, along with area clergy and Jewish organization administrators led a rally at the beach on July 2, just yards away from where the words of hate had been scrawled.

“Marblehead is no place for hate,” Jackie Belf-Becker, the chairwoman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, told the 200 who attended.  “We are better than that. We respect our neighbors, our differences and our town.

Rabbi David Cohen-Henriquez, of Temple Sinai, said the words of hate reminded the community that residents are committed to tolerance and diversity. “May we bless today this attempted curse and transform it; redeem it into words of blessings to each and every one of those who dwell in this holy community,” he said.

Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office, also attended and urged people with knowledge of the incident to call the Marblehead police at 81-631-1212.

Said state Representative Lori Ehrlich, “One thing is crystal clear, the perpetrators are cowards. They did this under the cover of darkness; they took no credit for their words and have no purpose in mind except to spread hatred. They sought to harm the social fabric that keeps us all together. There’s another thing that is certain. By the show of force out today, they did not get away with it.”

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