As police continue to investigate an escalating series of attacks on area synagogues, which reached new urgency following last week’s firebombing of a Rutherford synagogue, they are also addressing a recent string of anti-Semitic graffiti incidents in area parks. They do not see a link between the two, however.
The Fair Lawn Police Department responded Friday, Jan. 13, to a call about graffiti in Beaver Dam Park, where an employee earlier that morning discovered three swastikas and an anarchy symbol spray-painted on a basketball court and shed. On Jan. 1, the Bergen County Police Department (BCPD) responded to a call in the Fair Lawn section of Dunkerhook County Park where three swastikas were discovered inside a Porta-John. Later that day, the police department received a second call about two swastikas and hateful slogans discovered on a storm drain in the Glen Rock section of Dunkerhook.
“It looks like this is probably all the work of the same person,” said Detective-Sgt. Gabriel Escobar of the BCPD.
The department is working with the Fair Lawn Police Department, he said, and has developed a possible suspect, but he would not comment further. He did not, he said, see a link between the graffiti and the recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks against synagogues in the county.
“This is more or less an isolated incident,” he said. “It looks like the other ones might be of a different nature, more organized.”
In response to the attacks on shuls in Rutherford, Paramus, Hackensack, and Maywood, the BCPD has increased its patrols of all of the county’s synagogues, Escobar said. He urged worshippers to be alert. In particular, he said, people should be watchful for anybody they do not recognize, particularly during times when the building is not in use.
“Just be vigilant,” he said.