Palo Alto police are actively searching for a suspect after a handful of spaces were vandalized with hate graffiti.
Eight black swastika-like marks were drawn on utility boxes and street signs near Page Mill Road and Stanford Avenue in the College Terrace neighborhood, police said. The graffiti was reported on Dec. 30.
Three outlying graffiti marks were also found outside Whole Foods market in the downtown area.
The three to four inch marks were drawn backward, police said. One of the marks was accompanied by the words “No Jews Allowed,” prompting investigators to believes each mark was intended to be a swastika.
Sarah McDermott saw the graffiti on Stanford Avenue Sunday afternoon as she was driving from her parents’ home.
“I was pretty upset,” McDermott said. “It’s right near a bilingual preschool and church.”
McDermott reported the graffiti to the city's Public Works Department and expressed her outrage in a Facebook post the next morning.
“As a Jewish woman I am always upset to see [swastikas] but I think it’s a symbol that represents hate and xenophobia [of people] from all different backgrounds,” McDermott said. “I’m always shocked to see that someone would actively engaged in hate, and while it’s upsetting to see near my home, I’m not shocked to see in Palo Alto. It’s a reminder that we have to fight hate in our communities and not point to it elsewhere.”
Palo Alto City Councilman Cory Wolbach read about the graffiti from McDermott’s social media post. He drove to the neighborhood and removed the marks with an alcohol wipe.
“This is not something we tolerate in Palo Alto,” Wolbach said.
Wolbach was lead author of a city resolution to proclaim Palo Alto’s commitment to a diverse and protective community, motivated by an uptick in hate crimes following the November presidential election. The resolution passed unanimously on Dec. 12.
Wolbach said this incident is a reminder for the city to be vigilant against hate, and to reach out to the community for ways to make the community even more inclusive.
“Someone who wants to spread a message of hate in Palo Alto will not have that message up long,” Wolbach said.
The police department is looking for video surveillance in order to identify a suspect. No suspect has been named at this time, and no additional graffiti has been reported.
Anyone who may have information about this crime may call the police department's 24-hour dispatch at 650-329-2413.