WESTON, FLA. (WSVN) - - Broward County leaders expressed outrage and disgust at a news conference in Weston after antisemitic graffiti appeared in the city over the weekend.
City officials gathered to deliver a message to the public on Monday.
“This is not just grafitti, this is hateful rhetoric,” said Weston Mayor Margaret Brown. “In Weston, there is no place for hate, and we will not tolerate it.”
“Weston has been, and will always remain, an inclusive, safe and welcoming city,” said B’nai Aviv Rabbi Adam Watstein.
“There is no place and space for antisemitism in Broward County, not today, not tomorrow and not ever,” said Broward Mayor Michael Udine.
The vandal or vandals tagged parts of a park playground in the Weston Hills community with swastikas and derogatory terms.
Monday night, 7News cameras captured families out and about. Children who were out trick or treating were seen holding orange goodie bags.
Area residents reacted to the defaced playground.
“Weston is like everybody. We do have a lot of – it’s mixed: a lot of Jews, we have a lot of Hispanics, and I don’t understand it,” said resident Betty Forbes.
Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., weighed in on the matter from Davie.
“Yesterday morning, our community awoke to another harsh reality, that hate is pervasive, not only in our politics but in our public life,” she said.
“If you’re that brave to do that in the cloak of darkness, come out in the daylight and show yourself,” said Brown. “Show yourself, because if not, you’re just cowardly.”
This is the second time this month that Weston Hills has been targeted. The community was hit earlier this month on Yom Kippur, the holiest of the Jewish holidays.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating this recent round of hate-filled messages.
“We are appointing additional resources to the community and have been since the first incident,” said BSO Capt. Sam Cavalieri.
It’s been happening in various forms around the state. Antisemitic slurs were also found around Jacksonville over the weekend.
“The recent spike in high profile, emboldened and public antisemitism as seen in Northeast Florida in the past weekend at the Florida, Georgia game and the repeated instances of it here in Weston is part of a much larger, deeply alarming and heartbreaking trend,” said Wasserman Schultz.
On Saturday, a sign that said “Kanye was right about the Jews” was draped along an overpass. The same phrase was found projected at a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators.
When asked if the antisemitic displays make her angry, Forbes replied, “It’s unsettling, it’s frightening, because I don’t know what’s going to happen to me if I walk down the street.”
“I think it’s horrible. Of course, I don’t agree with any antisemitic propaganda,” said Weston visitor Orlando Yoris. “This is a very Latin community. I did not suspect that happening around here.”
The University of Florida and the University of Georgia released a joint statement, reading in part: “Together [we] denounce these and all acts of antisemitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance. We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we stand together against hate.”
“We must be relentless in our action against this hate and all forms of hate,” said Wasserman Schultz.
“To the perpetrator of these antisemitic crimes, all of us collectively tell you, you will not win,” said Watstein.
While some residents found the vandalism unsettling, others said they’re not as worried.
“I can tell you it doesn’t make me nervous. I’m Jewish, but it doesn’t make me nervous. I’m not concerned about it,” said resident Brian Fogelson. “My guess is that it’s probably just some kids with misinformation. There are people like that everywhere; there’s nothing you can do about that. You just have to go about your day.”
All incidents happened overnight in the city. Deputies are taking into account all leads and are doing all they can to find the person or people responsible for the hateful graffiti.
If you have any information on these crimes, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $5,000 reward.
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