Monday, August 09, 2004

Shades of Kristallnacht

There was a particularly creepy hate crime recently in San Francisco, according to this report from the San Francisco Examiner, in which some 50 or so businesses with signs for a Jewish candidate for the city's Board of Supervisors in their windows had swastikas scrawled on them:
The target of the anti-Semitic vandalism spree was David Heller, president of the Geary Boulevard Merchant Association and first-time candidate for supervisor in District 1.

Upon arriving to work Monday morning, Heller was inundated with messages from business owners whose windows had been defaced with swastikas over the weekend. In each reported incident, the campaign sign, which features Heller's picture, was taped to the inside of the store window and the vandal used a black marker to superimpose a swastika and a Star of David symbol in front of Heller's face on the outside of the glass.

While the Heller campaign has suggested that as many as 50 windows may have been vandalized, some were quickly cleaned off. As of Tuesday, police were looking into 11 incidents along Geary Boulevard and another 11 between 12th and 30th avenues, in which the property owners called police and evidence of the hate crimes were gathered.

The vandalism was particularly disturbing for Heller, who is Jewish and whose four grandparents were killed by Nazis in Poland during World War II. Heller's own parents left Poland for Israel in 1937, and Heller said the neo-Nazi smear represented the first time he could remember being the target of anti-Semitism.

That a crime like this would crop up in a traditionally "enlightened" district like Richmond is especially disturbing.

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