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South Bend leaders condemn hateful graffiti at city park

(WNDU)
Published: Nov. 13, 2016 at 11:26 PM EST
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South Bend leaders are speaking out against a swastika painted along the St. Joseph River. It was found at Seitz Park over the weekend. A concerned citizen blocked out the sign with blue paint until city workers re-painted the wall Monday.

"It's not funny. It's not fun. It's not just a joke. It's something that represents murder and death," said Ben Davis, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley.

The Hitler regime killed millions of the Jewish faith during the 1940s, leaving people, like Davis, wondering about their lineage. Both of his maternal grandparents lost their extended families in concentration camps.

"Growing up, it was weird when I'd meet people, and they had all these relatives and cousins, and I had none," Davis replied.

Likewise, Rabbi Neir Bulman is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He decried the anti-Semitic graffiti at Seitz Park. But, he found consolation in someone marking out the swastika until the City permanently removed the tag.

"When the majority rises up and says, 'This is not okay,' that actually gives me a tremendous feeling of encouragement," said the head rabbi of the Hebrew Orthodox Congregation in South Bend.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg denounced the graffiti, saying it violates the city's vision.

"We do not respect or regard hate speech or discrimination as something that belongs here in South Bend," said Buttigieg. He added, saying: "Regardless of the origins of it, I do think it presents an opportunity, and that's an opportunity for us to establish that here in South Bend, there's a place for everyone."

Davis agreed.

"While we want to condemn [the graffiti], we want to educate the community and they understand this is not acceptable," he said.

Painting graffiti on public property is illegal. To report graffiti, contact the 3-1-1 hotline.

For more information on hate symbols, visit the

or the

.