SWAMPSCOTT – Police in two communities are following up on leads in regard to two unrelated hate incidents that occurred on the North Shore in recent weeks.
One incident involved anti-Semitic and racist graffiti found spray painted on the rocks on Preston Beach, and the other involved the “slap tagging” of stickers found around downtown Salem that police say is tied to a white nationalist hate group.
The incident was condemned by Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office. Trestan believes it’s important for such incidents to be reported and called out.
On the morning of Sept. 2, a beachgoer discovered boulders covered with messages of hate, including those at the base of the stairs that lead from Beach Bluff Park down to the beach.
Swampscott Police Detective Ted Delano said in an email police are looking to identify two teenage girls to see if they have any information.
Delano said a retired law enforcement officer from the area told police he was on the beach around 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.
“He said there were two young girls (13-16 years old) that stayed behind after a large group of kids dispersed. He described one as having a streak of red hair and both had long skateboards,” Delano said in his email.
Swampscott police are attempting to identify the girls. Those with information can call detectives at 781-595-1111.
In Salem, officials have asked residents to report if they see someone placing hate stickers around the city. The stickers are tied to a white nationalist group called NSC-131.
Salem police Capt. Fred Ryan said two detectives are assigned to the case. “It’s not something we take lightly,” Ryan said.
Ryan said last week police had identified one person through a tip through the Salem No Place for Hate Committee’s site who is living in Lynn. At the time, police had identified five people who live in the area who might be involved. He said there was a missed opportunity to identify someone who was seen making an anti-Semitic rant downtown on Aug. 27.
On Monday, Ryan said that over the weekend, No Place for Hate helped identify another person tied to the group from Pepperell, a town on the New Hampshire border west of Lowell.
The department has information about these individuals in case they return to the city, Ryan said. Officers have been given names and pictures of them during roll call. If patrol officers see these individuals downtown, they will keep an eye on them, Ryan said.
Slap tagging stickers is a crime that falls under the city’s vandalism statute. Those with information on this hate incident can call the Salem Police Criminal Investigations Division at 978-745-9700 or the anonymous tip line at 978-619-5672.