Man charged with painting swastikas on DC’s Union Station

Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

A man accused of painting swastikas on Washington, D.C.’s Union Station was arrested and charged on Friday.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested Geraldo Pando, 34, and charged him with display of certain emblems and defacing private/public property. Authorities say he allegedly spray painted swastikas on the pillars of Union Station in addition to the building itself at around 12:45 a.m. on Friday.

Authorities said he then allegedly spray painted graffiti on buildings at three other locations in D.C., including on the 900 block of 5th Street NW, the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW and the 400 block of L Street NW.

The charge is both a misdemeanor and felony under D.C. law, and could come with up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor and up to 10 years in prison as a felony, according to The Washington Post.

Pando did not have a fixed address, according to authorities.

Detectives are looking into the incident at Union Station “as potentially being motivated in whole or in part by hate or bias,” The Post reported, citing Amtrak and D.C. police. The investigation, however, is ongoing.

Authorities said an Amtrak officer pointed out the suspect on surveillance video and then passed it on to law enforcement agencies, according to The Post. Capitol Police reportedly said it recognized the individual and helped identify him at a tent located near Union Station.

Pando was wearing the same jacket and shoes as the person identified in the surveillance video, according to the affidavit cited by The Post. He reportedly said he did not recall painting the swastikas or a curse targeting former President Obama.

The defendant, however, said he “probably did write that [the latter] because he hated Obama and that Obama was always in his head,” according to a complaint cited by The Post.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington posted a video of the vandalism on Twitter Friday morning. The group said it was “disturbed” by the video, which shows multiple swastikas drawn on the external walls of Union Station.

The incident came one day after the international community recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration camp that operated during the Holocaust.

“This antisemitic and hateful symbol has no place in our society, and to find it in our city the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is particularly offensive,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington wrote.

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