Swastikas found on Oregon Holocaust Memorial
© Portland.gov

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Portland was vandalized over the weekend with Nazi swastikas and other antisemitic messages.

The Portland Police Department says it was notified about the graffiti spray-painted on the memorial early Sunday morning, with similar tags seen on street signs and concrete barriers in the neighborhood. 

The vandalism reportedly included the numbers “1488,” a symbol popular among neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

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No arrests have been made and there is no suspect information available at this time, Portland officials said in statement. The graffiti has since been removed by maintenance crews, according to The Oregonian.

Oregon Jewish Museum Director Judy Margles said in a statement to local outlet KOIN that defacing the memorial is an act of “symbolic violence.”

“To use Nazi symbols to deface a memorial dedicated to the millions who were murdered during the holocaust re-capitulates the hatred that drove the original genocide,” Margles said. “It is an act of symbolic violence against the very idea that inspired the memorial.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said the damage was “heartbreaking” and “particularly painful” at the beginning of May, which is Jewish American Heritage Month.

“I denounce hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy. Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to report it to the police,” Wheeler said in statement.

The memorial was dedicated in 2004 and features a stone bench in a circular, cobblestoned area meant to simulate a town square like ones that Jewish families gathered in before being taken to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

The square features everyday objects left behind by victims, including bronzes of shoes, glasses and a suitcase. It also includes giant stone placards detailing a brief history of the genocide and quotes from Holocaust survivors.

At the end of the memorial wall is a soil vault panel, where earth and ash are interred from six Nazi extermination camps. It is inscribed with the names of people who died in the camps, including those who have surviving relatives living in Oregon and Washington.

There has been a reported rise in hate incidents across the nation.

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The Anti-Defamation League reported in April that 2020 was the third-worst year for antisemitic incidents since it first began tracking such data in 1979. According to the organization, 2,024 incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism were reported last year.

This February, a set of Holocaust memorial statues were destroyed at a Tulsa, Okla., Jewish art museum and swastikas were spray painted on a synagogue in Spokane, Wash.

A student at the University of Connecticut was arrested last week and charged with a hate crime in connection to a spray-painted swastika near the U-Conn Hillel building during the Jewish holiday of Passover.