Police investigating defacement of Bernie Sanders mural in DC as hate crime

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing a rally on Capitol Hill in 2013.
Photo credit: JTA

By Sophia Young

A mural of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that was defaced with an extremist right-wing symbol has been fixed, but the perpetrator has not been found.

The vandalism of the mural in Southeast D.C. is being investigated as a hate crime, according to Metropolitan police. The perpetrator painted an image of the Pepe the Frog cartoon on the mural between Dec. 15 and Jan. 14.

The image has been adopted by white supremacist groups and anti-Semites. The Anti-Defamation League declared the image a hate symbol. The image of Pepe the Frog covered the face of Sanders, who is Jewish.


One of mural’s artists notified police of the defacement on Jan. 16, believing “that the defacement may be motivated by hate or bias of political or religious affiliation,” according to the police report.

“The appropriation of that symbol somehow became an expression of power by the individuals that were doing it, and then it spread over the internet and different chat rooms and 8chan and Reddit and some of the places where Alt-Right and white supremacists folks find each other and share ideas and share strategies,” ADL Vice President Doron Ezickson told Fox5.

Though fewer anti-Semitic hate crimes have been reported in the District since 2018, nationally there is an upward trend. The ADL reported 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents nationally in 2019, the highest number since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic crimes in 1979.


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