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Swastika found scratched into Salt Lake City Jewish center

May 17, 2021 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A swastika was found scratched into the door of a Jewish community center in Salt Lake City Sunday morning.

Salt Lake City police received a call reporting the vandalism at the Chabad Jewish Community Center Synagogue around 8:30 a.m., according to the department.

In a tweet posted that morning, Chabad Rabbi Avremi Zippel shared photos of the swastika and wrote, “We will not cower in fear.”

“A swastika is not a political statement; a swastika is an image of hate,” Zippel told KSL-TV. “A swastika represents one thing, and one thing only: that is, death to the Jews.”

Police said surveillance footage of the front of the building shows a person scratching the symbol into the synagogue’s door around 2 a.m. The video is dark and making out details of the suspect is difficult, police said.

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Authorities were investigating the incident as a hate crime, which would act as a sentencing enhancement on a vandalism charge.

The defacement occurred days after the FBI issued a warning to all local synagogues about potential threats in light of current escalations in violence in Palestine and Israel.

The email told synagogues to “remain vigilant of suspicious or threatening activities at Jewish affiliated houses of worship, businesses, or within your respective organizations” and to consider extra patrols during services.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney voiced his support to the Utah Jewish community and said, “Those who commit acts of vandalism against Jews or their places of worship in Salt Lake City or anywhere else only disgrace their own souls.”