Miami Beach police are investigating what they suspect is a hate crime after “KKK” was found spray-painted at a Jewish women’s prayer center.
Three buses at the Scott Rakow Youth Center were found covered in red spray paint early Tuesday morning. The graffiti also included an “A” that resembles the symbol for Anarchy.
According to police, four separate sites were defaced. What looked like a bull’s eye was painted on the front door of a condo building. A city homeless outreach center was also targeted.
City workers quickly covered up the messages.
“They cleaned it as soon as it went up, which is just a message to our community that we do not tolerate this type of message. We do not tolerate this kind of hate in this community,” said Miami Beach police Detective Vivian Hernandez. “And to the individuals who did this: Yes, it is a felony and it’s a hate crime enhancement.”
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is underway, which may have spurred the graffiti, Hernandez said.
Roger Abramson created a giant menorah out of seashells that goes up on Lincoln Road every Hanukkah. He says the menorah has been the target of hate-vandalism.
Last year, Abramson said someone wrote “You killed Jesus” on the sidewalk in front of the menorah.
“This year, somebody did cut the wires to the electricity to the lights. So we had to replace that,” Abramson said.
He added: “I’m not looking to make a big deal about it because essentially, Miami Beach is a great place for everybody, including Jews.”
Despite the messages found Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents in Florida declined by 20 percent in 2012. There were 88 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2012, compared to 111 incidents reported in 2011, according to the league.
Hava Holzhauer, Florida regional director of the league, noted that there is no known organized hate group targeting Jewish people in Miami Beach. She also said that, though the graffiti included symbols of both groups, the KKK and anarchist groups don’t tend to work together. The KKK symbol also sends a racist message, she said.
“Any symbol of hate at any time hurts the community,” Holzhauer said.