VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Walgreens removed swastikas spray painted on the side of one of their Venice stores Tuesday after they appeared late last week. Venice Police are investigating the spray painted hate symbols after the department says they learned of the vandalism on Sunday. Because it occurred on private property, police say it would be up to the property owner to press charges if a suspect is identified. None had been identified as of Tuesday.
A Jewish resident sent photographs of the symbols to 8 On Your Side in an effort to get the symbols removed in a more timely manner. She has asked to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety in speaking out against the hate symbols. She said she noticed the vandalism last week as she left an appointment with her child.
“I’m scared. It was a very shocking thing to literally come to face to face with these symbols having my son just stand there,” the woman said.
In a statement, the Venice Police Department said:
The Venice Police Department strongly condemns anti-Semitic, hateful, or racially motivated criminal acts. We encourage everyone to report incidents of vandalism, especially of this nature, to the police department. Overall our community is kind and welcoming to everyone, so this type of incident is rare. We ask anyone with information about this incident to contact the Venice Police Department at 941-486-2444.-Venice Police Department
Walgreens told 8 On Your Side:
We condemn any form of bigotry, racism and hate. We have reported the incident local law enforcement and are working to remove these offensive symbols completely.Walgreens
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota Manatee warned that symbols like these must be condemned by all.
“It might be teens just doing graffiti, but it’s not excuse,” said Lindsey Mintz.
“Every expression of bigotry and hate is a big deal. And it should be a big deal to everybody. Not just to the Jewish community,” she added.