Neighbors clean up swastika-filled graffiti in North Phoenix | Community

On February 15, Jason Israel was dating his 9-year-old son when he spied graffiti on the wall separating his cul-de-sac from Main Street at 37th Square and Mayo Boulevard in north Phoenix. Swastikas and the words “GOP” and “QAnon” covered a large part of the wall.

“It was very annoying,” said Israel. “I understand the political message given the discourse we are having in our nation, but only the pictures of the swastika and what it represents – I was mad. It was very close to home. “He drives past the wall every day.

Israel immediately called its homeowners association to report the graffiti, assuming that this would be the end. He was surprised to find it still on the wall a few hours later. He called the HOA again and was told that the police had been called. He spoke to the police, who told him that the graffiti was written in charcoal and could probably be removed with warm soap and water.

The neighborhood is full of families with young children, Israel said, and he wanted the graffiti, especially the swastikas, to be gone.

“Regardless of the political message it was probably trying to convey, the swastikas stood out and I live in the neighborhood with all the families and I didn’t want the kids to see that,” he said. “As a Jew, it was worrying and extremely offensive.”

Israel, attending both Chabad in Phoenix and Chabad in north Phoenix, decided not to wait for the HOA to clean them up.

His neighbors Shelly Flecky, Amy House, and others gathered supplies to clean the wall. Israel’s son Russell and Flecky’s son Alex also helped. The warm soapy water wasn’t enough, but they were finally able to remove the graffiti by washing the wall with electricity.

Israel took the opportunity to answer his son’s questions about why the swastika was so offensive and needed to be removed. “I told him it was wrong,” he said. “At that moment I was trying as best I could to teach him that the symbol represented hatred and evil. But we treat people with kindness, decency and love – everything you see here is the opposite of that. “

Israel lost its family in the Holocaust and seeing the image of the swastika near its home was extremely worrying, he said. The rest of the message was “gibberish,” but “the swastika has the greatest visual power, and that’s what it was about me,” he said.

Israel contacted his friend Carlos Galindo-Elvira, the former regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona, about the incident. Galindo-Elvira contacted the Jewish Community Relations Council and local news agencies.

The attention and concern related to the event took Israel by surprise, but the response on social media has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.

He hopes not to come across more offensive graffiti but will be prepared for it if he does.

“It’s a hateful speech, it’s wrong and we don’t want it on the wall anymore,” he said. “If it comes back, we’ll take it down again.” JN

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