FAIRFAX, Va. - Two hate crimes have traumatized a Jewish community center and another church in Northern Virginia during one of the holiest times of the year as anti-Jewish and anti-religious graffiti were scrawled across these buildings overnight.
The vandalism at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia on Little River Turnpike happened during the Jewish holy days of Passover.
The community center closed Monday afternoon so families could celebrate the holiday. But according to police, it is believed that someone spray-painted Nazi propaganda, swastikas and other hate speech on the building between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Tuesday.
“It’s particularly painful for us on this holiday of Passover when we celebrate our exodus from Egypt,” said Jeff Dannick, the executive director for the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. “We are reminded that we need to be mindful and careful for everybody in the world, and for this to happen for us during Passover is particularly painful.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, a power washing company was brought in to help start the work of removing the hate speech from their building. Just after the graffiti was discovered, they decided to cover up the damage with paper.
About a mile up the road, the Little River United Church of Christ also had a swastika and other graffiti onto its building.
Fairfax County police said they are investigating both incidents and surveillance video has been turned over to them.
“We are investigating it. It is a crime – not only to spray paint – but it’s a more severe penalty if the crime is bias-motivated like it is in these cases and we are working very diligently,” said Fairfax County Police spokesperson Tawny Wright. “We are asking anybody out there if they have information about what happened here, definitely give us a call if they have any information on who might have done it. Maybe they were driving last night and saw something suspicious in the area. Here at the Jewish community center, we have determined the timeframe was likely between 1 and 4 a.m.”
Officials at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia said they have been in touch with both the governor of Virginia, the state’s attorney general and the FBI.
Officials will not comment about what exactly the surveillance cameras recorded early Tuesday morning, but said they are hopeful they will soon be able to identify a suspect in this case.