MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and local Jewish leaders are speaking out after swastikas were keyed into vehicles parked along Miami Beach, overnight.
Miami Beach Police officers, detectives and crime scene units were on the scene, near 28th Street and Prairie Avenue, where some of the vehicles were found. Police said they received four vandalism reports, Sunday, on Prairie Avenue, and a fifth nearby, on Alton Road and 20th Street.
“Horrified, horrified,” said one homeowner whose SUV was vandalized with the anti-Semitic symbol.
Monday morning, Wasserman Schultz was vocal about the rise in anti-Semitic acts in South Florida and across the country. Over the past several months, Jewish Community Centers (JCC) around the U.S. have received non-credible bomb threats.
She believes the rise in these acts directly correlates to the presidential campaign of President Donald Trump and our current political climate.
“I don’t think it’s coincidental that that [the rise in anti-Semitism] has coincided with President Trump’s campaign really giving license and permission to anti-Semites,” she explained, “both by not knocking down anti-Semitism, by not renouncing it, by not distancing himself from it during the campaign, and by taking an excruciatingly long time, all the way up until last week when he was asked and given opportunity after opportunity over the last several months, and really throughout his campaign, to renounce anti-Semitism and criticize his supporters. To me, that has opened the floodgates.”
Hours later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned the nearly two dozen threats made to JCCs on Monday. He called the threats unacceptable and promised that the Department of Justice would do whatever it can to help prosecute the culprits.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Undersecretary Col. Steve Kinsey said they would partner with federal officials to step up efforts to combat anti-semitic acts.
“We’re going to ramp up our monitoring of social media,” he said. “We’re going to ramp up us talking to our confidential informants.”
Rabbi Mendy Levy, who lives next to one of the homes where cars were vandalized, said that this and other recent anti-Semitic acts around the country worry him tremendously.
“It’s a predominantly Jewish area over here,” he said, “and just the current crisis that we’re in now, the climate that is taking place around America, it’s very disturbing, so we want people to keep vigilant, at the same time, we want people to spread the message of peace and light and not hate.”
Levy said an orthodox Jewish temple was recently vandalized with a swastika. On Friday, members of the temple found the swastika drawn with a marker on the side of a glass door.
Homeowner Doug Eaton said his wife found the swastika drawn on the hood of their SUV.
“At the local JCC, there’s been a couple of bomb threats so far this year, so the climate these days is not very good when it comes to anti-Semitism, and things like that,” he said, “so it’s not that surprising, it’s unfortunate. We are not Jewish, a lot of our neighbors are, the majority of them are, and obviously, that’s who was targeted and designed to offend.”
Levy said the swastikas are painful reminders of the Holocaust.
“It’s very hurtful. The whole concept of the swastika goes back to the times of the Holocaust, and it brings up horrific memories of genocide and hatred toward a minority,” he said.
“I did have family that was lost,” said the homeowner, who didn’t want to be named. “I don’t know … hard to talk about it.”
No arrests have been made.
The City of Miami Beach released a statement via Twitter, which emphasized that anti-Semitic acts of all kinds are not tolerated.
If you have any information on this vandalism, please call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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