Police in Skaneateles said they have identified juveniles as being responsible for an incident of what a village board member described as "hate filled vandalism."
Village Mayor Mary Sennett told the town board last week that anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted in the village the night of Friday, March 17, and that residents have since "expressed their shock and concern and their support for our Jewish residents."
Village Police Chief Scott Heggelke said in a statement Tuesday that those responsible for the vandalism had been found.
"We are confident we have identified all the people involved and they are 18 or younger," Heggelke said. "I have been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office and awaiting a decision on who will be charged with what crime(s)."
Those involved in the incident had been cooperative, Heggelke said, adding that the school district "has also been a big help."
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"Last Saturday, village residents discovered that during the previous night, vandals had spray painted messages at several locations in the village," Sennett said at board of trustees meeting March 23. "Sadly, one message was not typical pranking but was a message targeting the Jewish members of our community."
"Members of this board have heard from friends and neighbors who have expressed their shock and concern and their support for our Jewish residents. Anti-Semitism has no place in our village, and we condemn the highly offensive comments directed at our Jewish neighbors. Catching the vandals is the highest priority for our Police Department and I’m confident the police will be successful. The perpetrators will be held accountable and will hopefully be made to understand the impact of their actions," she said.
Reading a statement on behalf of the board at the March 23 meeting, trustee Kathleen Zapata said that members of the board "were shocked and saddened to have woken up this past weekend to such hate filled vandalism littering our streets. Racism and prejudice have no place here, and we emphatically denounce these messages in the strongest possible terms. They are wrong and will not be tolerated by us, or by our residents."
Trustee Gregg Eriksen likewise condemned the crime, saying that making anyone feel unsafe in their community because of how they worship is an "act of violence."
"The Anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on our street us a symptom of a larger disease that has attacked our national politics, Eriksen said. "Hate crimes have increased notably over the past decade, and portions of our discourse have allowed political violence more into the mainstream. Federal law enforcement agencies are united in their opinion that white supremacists are the leading terrorist threat our country faces."
Eriksen also challenged the community to take a stand.
"We can start by speaking up firmly against this particular graffiti," he said. "Making anyone feel unsafe in their community because of how they worship is an act of violence. We can replace speech like this with positive messages of inclusion. We can say publicly that we stand with the targets of hate speech. This takes away the audience for hate speech, and it takes away its power."