A swastika was discovered spray-painted on a wall next to the nation’s oldest Holocaust memorial in Philadelphia, sparking a vandalism probe.
The hateful symbol, measuring about 2 feet by 2 feet, was spotted early Sunday on the wall of the Verizon building on Arch Street adjacent to the Horowitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza, police said.
Surveillance video caught a masked man quickly scrawling the Nazi insignia with green spray paint around 1:30 am, according to the authorities.
The suspect was described in a police press release as an “unknown male” who was last seen wearing a dark, possibly brown, jacket with a white stripe across the chest and down the arms.
Eszter Kutas, executive director of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, which manages the memorial, told NBC Philadelphia that “to have a hate symbol at a Holocaust memorial plaza is especially upsetting.”
The swastika was removed within hours of its discovery.
The vile act of vandalism comes amid a dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents across the US in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which triggered a war in Gaza.
Data gathered by the Anti-Defamation League shows that since the outbreak of the deadly conflict in the Middle East, domestic antisemitic attacks jumped 360%.
“We strongly condemn the disgraceful act of defacement near the Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza with a spray-painted swastika,” Andrew Goretsky, regional director of ADL Philadelphia, said in a statement on X. “This reprehensible act not only desecrates a symbol of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust but also highlights the disturbing rise in antisemitism plaguing our community.”
The Philadelphia memorial, the oldest public Holocaust monument in the US, was commissioned in the 1950s by Holocaust survivors and Jewish community members.
The monument was erected in 1964 and redesigned in 2018 with new installations and artifacts.