One of the oldest synagogues in Washington state was vandalized with Swastikas on Monday morning and police are trying to discover who was responsible.
In a press release, Spokane Police Officer John O’Brien said the Temple Beth Shalom reported the anti-Semitic graffiti around 9:20 a.m. When officers arrived on-scene they found one side of the building, along with a Holocaust memorial, damaged.
Inside the synagogue is a Torah that survived the Holocaust. According to the synagogue’s website, "Temple Beth Shalom is deeply honored to be the home of scroll #649 from the Memorial Scrolls Trust. The Memorial Scrolls Trust is the steward of 1,564 sacred scrolls of the law that were rescued and gathered in Czechoslovakia from many parts of eastern Europe as Jewish synagogues, congregations, and communities were destroyed during the Holocaust. During this time, Jews in Prague worked to gather Jewish artifacts from decimated and deserted communities. Our scroll was written sometime between 1800 and 1825. Dedicated to our Temple in 1987 by the Memorial Scrolls Trust, it is on permanent loan to Temple Beth Shalom."
Temple Beth Shalom is one of the oldest synagogues in Washington state and was founded in 1892.
According to StopAntisemitism.org, the area is home to known neo-nazi and white supremacist Eddie McBride and his group, 14 First.
O’Brien said in the statement that officers spoke to employees, canvased the neighborhood for surveillance cameras and looked for 'discarded evidence.' Officers also collected paint samples from the building for evidence.
According to SPD, the synagogue’s surveillance camera system captured images of a lone white, male suspect. O’Brien said the man was wearing blue jeans, black boots, a dark colored jacket with hood, a dark colored beanie style stocking cap, black gloves, a red mask and sunglasses on his head.
This is being investigated as malicious harassment and falls under the revised code of Washington’s definition of a hate crime which includes; defaces religious real property with words, symbols, or items that are derogatory to persons of the faith associated with the property.
Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said in a statement Monday, "This action is reprehensible. There is no place for hate-mongering in our community. SPD takes this crime very seriously and is committed to doing everything possible to arrest the person or persons responsible. We will always stand with those who are the target of hate and bigotry."
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward also issued a statement condemning the vandalism.
"Spokane is a community that welcomes different faiths and protects the ability of people to practice those beliefs safely and freely in their places of worship. The symbols and writings are disgusting and desecrate a place of worship and a memorial to those whose lives were lost during a hateful time in world history. The Spokane Police Department has dedicated numerous resources to the investigation of this hate crime. We speak on behalf of the community when we say this type of hate and divisiveness in our community will never be tolerated."
Anyone with information that could help the investigation, are asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233 and reference incident #2021-20021312.