PENSACOLA, Florida (WALA) — A little over two weeks ago this brick covered with antisemitic phrases and markings was thrown through a window at the Pensacola Chabad Jewish Center.
This surveillance video shows someone walking away from the center after the brick was thrown but it’s unclear who it is.
Since then, five more incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism have been reported throughout the city. Rabbi Mendel Danow says it’s upsetting to see this continue.
“I never thought this would be something we’d have to be concerned about in Pensacola but unfortunately we have to take it seriously,” said Rabbi Danow. “We’re talking people’s lives and people coming to celebrate their identity, their Judaism.”
Pensacola Police are taking it seriously as well. Chief Eric Randall says they’ve received multiple tips from the public. While they aren’t ready to name any suspects yet, he says they are working with state, local, and federal agencies on this investigation.
“A lot of information, a lot of expertise, a lot of forensic analysis,” said PPD Chief Eric Randall. “When you bring in resources from the local, state, and national level you bring a lot of expertise and weight with it as well.”
Even as the incidents continue Rabbi Danow says they’re trying to turn it into something positive. A few days after the incident he says they held an event and about 150 people came to show support for the Jewish community.
“We lit the candles, and it was a very inspirational event and that really is the idea behind taking this negative energy and turning it into something positive,” said Rabbi Danow.
He also says they plan to expand the Chabad center in the future, and they want to use the same brick that was used as a symbol of hate as part of the foundation.
“The idea of taking darkness and transforming it into light. So, taking the brick that was meant to be a stopper, a way of hurting and using that as a way of growth and of healing,” added Rabbi Danow.
While the community continues to heal from these incidents Pensacola Police say they won’t stop until they catch whoever is responsible.
“You put people in fear for the actions that you’re taking to try and promote some type of vision or ideology that you have,” said Chief Randall. “We will use every aspect of the law to prosecute the individual or individuals involved.”
Rabbi Danow says they have also started an ARK giving project to inspire acts of kindness. For more information, you can go to chabadpensacola.com/kindness.
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