May 12, 2009
“Jew” Graffiti Confounds Experts
Law enforcement officials and hate crime watchdogs have been confounded over the last few months by a spate of graffiti with the word “Jew” marking multiple locations in the Fairfax area, near Hollywood and on La Cienega Boulevard near the 10 Freeway.
The word “Jew” or “Jewish,” sometimes accompanied by the letters “TMA,” have been spray-painted on lampposts, freeway overpasses, walls and dumpsters, sometimes alone and sometimes alongside other tagging. No anti-Semitic messages or symbols accompany the word.
The six or seven locations of the graffiti also seem unconnected to anything Jewish, according to Ariella Loewenstein, associate regional director of Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest office. ADL is working with LAPD Wilshire Division to funnel information from the flurry of calls they are getting reporting the graffiti. They are also working with the city to get the tags removed as quickly as possible.
Detective Ronald Cade, detective supervisor of LAPD Wilshire Division, confirmed the reports, but said the LAPD could not provide details on the ongoing investigation.
“It’s just a very weird phenomenon,” Loewenstein said, noting that anti-Semitic graffiti typically include swastikas or violent language, or might be on a synagogue or Jewish cemetery. “Why pick that one word to spray paint, and leave it at that? Why in these areas, and on these specific things? … It could be random, but when it gets to be this many, that makes it a little less random.”
Loewenstein said no connection had been drawn between the graffiti and threats to Jews scrawled last month on the bathroom wall at Hamilton High School, just blocks away from where the word “Jew” was spray painted on the low brick wall that surrounds the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center on La Cienega Boulevard.
Anyone who spots the graffiti is encouraged to take photos of it and call the ADL (http://regions.adl.org/pacific-southwest/) at 310-446-8000 or LAPD Wilshire Division at 213-473-0476 Voice.
Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Senior Writer