Kennedy Zak and
Gavin J. Quinton
Following seven reports of antisemitic graffiti throughout Glendale between Nov. 25 and Nov. 28 and several similar incidents in Burbank, the Glendale Police Department detectives have found probable cause that one suspect is responsible for the hate crimes in both cities.
The suspect, first identified by the Burbank Police Department, is a 32-year-old transient known to frequent Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Temple City, El Segundo and Los Angeles. As of the News-Press’ Friday deadline, the suspect has not yet been arrested, but a case has been filed against this individual with the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.
Police said the graffiti consisted of swastikas, an iron cross and the “SS” Nazi symbol.
Simon Hammel, a board member at Temple Sinai Glendale, spoke to the impact these crimes have on communities.
“The symbols we saw were ones that were used throughout history and have long been associated with violence against Jewish people,” Hammel told the News-Press. “Swastikas and SS lightning bolts are used as a form of intimidation, and more than that, it stands for something very specific, which is to wish harm on us.”
These antisemitic displays took place in multiple locations in the 5100 and 6200 blocks of San Fernando Road, on the side of the bridge at Geneva Street and Glenoaks Avenue, on a newspaper stand near Howard Street and Glenoaks Avenue and two utility boxes — one near Geneva Street and Monterey Road and the other near Central Avenue and Pioneer Drive.
“When people see those things, they get upset because we don’t want to see harm come to our children or for them to be in a society where people hate them for their identity,” Hammel said.
Glendale and the surrounding region has seen a spike in antisemitic hate crimes in recent years.
According to a recent Los Angeles County data report, religious crimes spiked 41% from 2021 to 2022 and made up 16% of all hate crimes with 83% of all religious hate crimes being anti-Jewish.
Victims of religious hate crimes were most frequently targeted at their residence (26%). The next most common locations were businesses (24%), followed by religious organizations (18%), public places (17%), schools (8%) and electronic communication (6%).
Fifty-four percent of the incidents that occurred in schools were cases of vandalism and all of them were anti-Jewish. In addition, there were slight declines in the number of religious crimes in public places and at religious sites from 2021 to 2022.
Temple Sinai has had to step up security and support for those experiencing anxiety over targeted hate crimes, Hammel said.
“We’ve really stepped up our security in general for years. … If someone’s looking to do something they will choose the place that has the least amount of security,” Hammel said. “We have had different groups organized to deal with people’s fears about this. People just have access to more information and see some of the horrific things online, and that has led them to being rightly upset.”
Hammel said it may only be the beginning of this swell in targeted hate, but hopes that the two cities’ quick action in apprehending a suspect will send a message to those who might be considering similar crimes.
“The Glendale Police Department is committed to fostering an inclusive community and denounces hate in all of its forms,” the department said in a statement.
With an increase in hate crimes globally since the Israel-Hamas war, Hammel said he feels “fairly lucky” that the overall climate in Glendale is “overwhelmingly civil and inclusive” despite the recent graffiti incidents. He also finds some comfort in the knowledge that these acts are suspected to be from just one individual and do not necessarily reflect the ideals of the larger community.
Hammel also expressed his gratitude for GPD for quickly responding to these incidents and for the City Council for denouncing antisemitism at a July 11 meeting.
“As a member of a congregation in Glendale, I am grateful that the Glendale City Council leadership has joined 29 other California cities in passing a resolution formally denouncing antisemitism,” Hammel said.
First published in the December 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.