SWAMPSCOTT – Swampscott Police are investigating the defacement of a pro-Israel lawn sign that was covered with antisemitic rhetoric and a swastika. The “We Stand with Israel” sign had been placed on the front yard of a resident’s home.
The sign was defaced with a swastika over the Star of David – the symbol of the Jewish people and Israel. “Free Palestine” and “Genocide” was also written on the sign, along with the word “murders.”
The Swampscott Select Board and Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald issued the following statements unanimously condemning hate and this week’s antisemitic Incident in Swampscott. The town also expressed solidarity with the Jewish community in Swampscott and around the world.
“It is intolerable to see these types of hate crimes in Swampscott,” said Swampscott Select Board Chair David Grishman. “The Town of Swampscott is shocked by this incident and stands with all those who fight against hate in our community.”
“Swampscott stands against all those who espouse hate in the strongest possible terms,” said Katie Phelan, vice chair of the Swampscott’s Select Board. “We all have an obligation to speak out against this ugly sign of hate and share our love for all.”
“I have said this before, as citizens of Swampscott, we all share a responsibility to confront hate, and this starts right here at home in Swampscott,” said Swampscott Select Board Member Peter Spellios. “Unfortunately, these are dark days and there is too much hate in our community and throughout the world – we must call out this hate and what this Nazi symbol represents.”
“The actions of this coward do not speak for the good people of Swampscott. With antisemitism on the rise, we all need to lead with our actions and do everything possible to recognize this hate and push against it. It’s fine to talk about loving our neighbors but only our actions can make a difference. It starts with each one of us,” said Swampscott Select Board Member Mary Ellen Fletcher.
According to a recent report by CNN, there has been a dramatic spike in hate incidents against Jewish and Muslim individuals across the country amid the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. The Anti-Defamation League said that since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, antisemitic incidents in the US increased 388%. The ADL cited some 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7-23; by comparison, there were 64 incidents over the same time frame in 2022.
Meanwhile, in Winthrop, Town Manager Anthony Marino, Council President James Letterie and Police Chief Terence M. Delehanty report that the Winthrop Police Department is investigating after a Zoom-based participant in Tuesday’s Town Council meeting shouted an antisemitic slur, displayed a swastika on their screen and appeared to give a Nazi salute during a discussion regarding the town’s flag flying policy.
“During a civic discussion on the flying of flags on town property, an individual seized the meeting to use it as a platform for hate speech and to display symbols of hate, intimidation and Nazism,” said Town Council President Letterie. “We condemn this act and all acts of hatred in or around our community, and we will always call out and condemn hatred in all its forms. There is no place for it here in Winthrop.”
The Town of Winthrop is actively reviewing its public meeting videoconferencing procedures and policies.
Added Town Manager Marino: “Winthrop has shown its true nature in the recent past when we banded together as a community of support and caring in the aftermath of a racially-motivated double murder in 2021. We came together then and we will always come together in unity to condemn hatred and intolerance and to fight fear and intimidation.”
The hateful outburst, in which the individual used an ethnic slur described by the American Jewish Committee as being primarily used today by white supremacists to denigrate Jewish people, is now the subject of an active police investigation. The Winthrop Police Department is also reaching out to its state and federal law enforcement partners to bring their considerable resources to bear on the investigation.
“The Winthrop Police Department is actively investigating this incident as a hate crime,” Chief Delehanty said. “We will respond aggressively to this attack on our community. There is no place for hate in Winthrop. Not in person; not online; not anywhere.” Θ