ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Detectives in St. Petersburg are investigating a hate crime after a swastika was found painted along with an antisemitic message on the side of the Florida Holocaust Museum.
St. Petersburg police say someone spray painted a swastika in black along with the message, “Jews are guilty.” Officers say they spotted the graffiti along the 1st Avenue South side of the museum around 4 a.m. while patrolling the area.
“The entire Jewish community is very concerned right now. There was a large rise in antisemitism throughout the country, especially in the last few weeks because of the conflict in Israel,” said Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast President Steve Schwersky. “We have been concerned, but when it hits closer to home, it raises that level of concern,” he continued.
“This act of hatred demonstrates that the work of the Florida Holocaust Museum is more important than ever,” Executive Director Elizabeth Gelman said in a statement. “We remain committed to our vital mission to prevent future genocides and educate people about the dangers of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred. Clearly, our society still has a long way to go. The museum deeply appreciates the responsiveness and professionalism of the St. Petersburg Police Department and its dedicated officers.”
According to police, city sanitation workers were called a few hours after the graffiti was found and painted over it.
Detectives are calling it hate graffiti and say they are actively investigating this as a hate crime. Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at (727) 893-7780. You can also text a tip to TIP411 by including SPPD in your message.
The Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest Holocaust museums in the country.
“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, this attack on the museum is not just repugnant. It is personal,” Michael Igel, chairman of the museum board, said. “The lessons of the Holocaust have not yet been learned, but the museum and the broader community who supports our vital work will never be intimidated by cowardly vandals, nor will we be deterred from our mission.”