C Civil Rights

Civil rights leaders denouncing hateful crime targeting Jewish family

By Jacqulyn Powell, For WPTV, On 14 February 2017, Read Original
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BOCA RATON, Fla. - Civil rights groups and religious leaders are denouncing what they call a hate crime in Boca Raton.

A swastika was spray-painted on a Jewish family's car in a predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhood between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

On Monday, the car owner covered it with spray paint, so her family and neighbors wouldn't have to look at it anymore.

Local Rabbi Yaakov Gibbar visited the neighborhood Sunday after neighbors realized what had happened.

"That symbol is a symbol of hatred," Gibbar said. "That symbol is a sign of anti-Semitism, which is violent and awful, disputable and deplorable."

The Nazi symbol is triggering real fear in the usually peaceful neighborhood. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has put extra patrols in the area as deputies search for a suspect. Area civil rights leaders say anxiety is spreading.

"It's not just the victim who suffers but the community the victim represents," said Yael Hershfield, Senior Associate Regional Director of the Boca Raton chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. "The Jewish community feels threatened by these kinds of expressions of hate."
The Anti-Defamation League is a Jewish civil rights group urging the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to stay on top of the investigation. They're also asking others to help.

"The message we want to send to everyone in the community is to really unlearn all the messages of hate with whether it's hate against Jews, hate against blacks, hate against immigrants or refugees, we need to unlearn those messages and welcome everyone."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is also stepping forward and denouncing the act of vandalism. CAIR-Florida's communications Director Wilfredo A. Ruiz released a statement, saying: "Our places of worship in America deserve the highest level of protection against hate crimes that very often put our lives in danger. We will always support our Jewish neighbors against bigotry and hate."

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