Religious groups, Nebraska’s governor and Nebraska state senators have condemned the painting of a swastika on a Lincoln synagogue.
A surveillance camera recorded a young man painting a swastika on the front door of the South Street Temple at 2061 S. 20th St. A swastika also was painted on the synagogue’s steps. Lincoln police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Peter Mullin, office administrator of South Street Temple, said he thinks the vandalism occurred a little after midnight on Monday, but it was not discovered until Wednesday morning.
Mullin said the swastika was painted on the upper left corner of the wood door above the words “black shirt,” an apparent reference to a member of the Italian Fascist party.
Police described the vandal as a white male in his teens to 20s with a thin build.
In a statement Thursday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said, “I condemn anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms, and encourage Nebraskans from all backgrounds to do the same.”
Lincoln State Sens. Anna Wishart and Patty Pansing Brooks, who represent the south Lincoln neighborhoods near the synagogue, both stood to denounce the vandalism and express support for the congregation.
Pansing Brooks recalled how a former cantor from the temple had reached out to a high-profile local KKK member who had targeted the congregation with hate-filled messages. Cantor Michael Weisser and his then-wife, Julie, befriended and transformed the man with their caring, Pansing Brooks said.
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Omaha Sens. John McCollister and Ernie Chambers also spoke against the Lincoln incident and the increase in white nationalist attacks generally.
The Anti-Defamation League Plains States Region also denounced the vandalism.
“This heinous act of desecration committed against this house of worship is despicable and must be condemned in the strongest terms by community leaders,” said Gary Nachman, ADL regional director. “But this cowardly behavior, which only seeks to instill fear in our community, will not deter Jews or any other religious group from practicing our constitutional right of religious expression and freedom.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said: “We condemn this act of anti-Semitic hate and stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Nebraska and around the country. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must stand with minority communities that are increasingly the targets of bigotry and violence.”
Police ask that people with information about the incident call 402-441-6000 or Lincoln Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.