Police are investigating a possible hate crime after dozens of swastikas were spray painted inside youth athletics facility in Port Washington, NY.
Athletic League director Rob Elkins found multiple swastikas spray painted inside the Sunset Park clubhouse after a group broke into the facility, destroying equipment and vandalizing the building.
Authorities believe the suspects broke in through a back door of the clubhouse, where they found red spray paint and began tagging everything from field equipment to the walls of the facility.
Port Washington Police District chief Robert DelMuro initially said the incident would not be investigated as a hate crime, but later walked those comments back.
“Unquestionably, a swastika is a deplorable symbol of hate,” DelMuro said in a statement that was reported by the Suffolk Voice. “I attempted to explain that this hate crime differs from many others in that the symbols were placed in the interior of the building, rather than on the exterior, and were painted using materials that were already in the building and were accessed after the building was burglarized.
“Of course, that does not diminish the severity of the crime,” he continued. “It is a hate crime and is being investigated as such.”
State Sen. Anna Kaplan expressed relief at the clarification.
“I’m disgusted by the despicable and cowardly act of anti-Semitic, racist vandalism that took place at the Port Washington PAL clubhouse this weekend,” Kaplan said in a statement. “I’m relieved that Chief DelMuro agrees, and has clarified his statement so that the community can have faith that this horrendous act will be thoroughly and properly investigated as a hate crime.
“We must never accept anti-Semitism and hate in our community in any form, and we must always work to eradicate it when we find it in our midst.”
The incident remains under investigation.