Montgomery County Police are asking anyone with surveillance cameras who lives near two sites in Bethesda where antisemitic graffiti was painted to check for possible information that could help in its investigation.
The vandalism included drawings of three people hanging from a noose with the words, “No Mercy for Jews” at the Bethesda Trolley Trail and swastikas with white supremacy symbols at Old Georgetown Road and Tuckerman Lane.
The hate graffiti at both sites was removed by the county Department of Transportation staff Nov. 14.
County Executive Marc Elrich called the vandalism “truly upsetting,” and he called on anyone with information to contact the police department.
“We must combat these tragic and despicable incidents through unity in every neighborhood and community throughout the County. We are one of the most diverse jurisdictions anywhere in the world and now is a time when we need to use it to make us stronger,” he said in a statement. “We must support and uplift our Jewish community during this time and we must continue to not tolerate hate in any form in Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and in this nation.”
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Executive Director Ron Halber said, “I have full confidence in the police” and know they are taking the matter seriously.“We have no doubt that the department has allocated detective time” to finding the culprit(s), Halber said.
He referred to a similar incident in Potomac several years ago in which the police located the suspect after matching ink from the Sharpie pen that was used to its sale at a nearby CVS and information from a Montgomery County Public Schools resource officer who learned of a student bragging to a friend about the incident.
The police in Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and D.C. “are very proactive,” he noted.
The hate messages came two weeks after the county council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that defines and reaffirms the county’s commitment to stand up to hate and against antisemitism.
That same council issued a statement about the graffiti. “We are horrified and saddened by the recent displays of antisemitism in and around the Trolley Trail in Bethesda. We have seen a troubling rise in antisemitic incidents nationwide and, tragically, this deeply alarming trend is also occurring right here in Montgomery County.
“The Council stands in strong solidarity with our Jewish community and condemns all acts of hate and religious bigotry. There is no tolerance in Montgomery County for these hateful actions and abhorrent, violent imagery attacking the Jewish community. “
Gil Preuss, CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, condemned both the acts of hate vandalism and reports of antisemitic flyers being distributed in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington.
“Federation is deeply disturbed by the discovery of antisemitic graffiti and flyers in our region,” he said in a statement. “These antisemitic and hateful symbols and materials have no place in our society. Federation continues to work closely with our security team and local law enforcement to learn more about these incidents and continue to keep our community safe.”
Alan Ronkin, director of the American Jewish Committee office in Washington, called the antisemitic graffiti “a sickening reminder of the rise in antisemitism in our country.”In a statement, Ronkin wrote, “The Jewish community will not be intimidated by these vicious messages.
We stand together with our friends and allies as a proud and strong community. We thank local law enforcement for their attention to this incident and to local officials who facilitated having the graffiti removed.”
In an email to his congregants, Rabbi Sender Geisinsky, of Chabad of Bethesda, said the location of the graffiti was two blocks from where his children meet their school bus. “’Why do they hate us?’ my son asked me when heard about it. ‘There is no good reason,’ I responded with tears in my eyes,” he continued. “My heart breaking that we have to have these conversations with our children in this day and age, in this place!”
At a gathering Monday night on Bethesda Trolley Trail in the Wildwood Manor neighborhood, Edoardo Kulp told FOX 5 that he is on the security committee of his synagogue.
“We meet every week these days just to talk about incidents like this and how we can protect ourselves,” he said. “And the fact that we have to go through that every week is ridiculous.”