No hate crime charges for spray-painting of swastikas

Police say neighbors were not Jewish, did not feel threatened

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Two teenage girls are charged with vandalism after allegedly spray painting swastikas next to the word “Jews” in a quiet Northampton neighborhood. But the girls will not be charged with a hate crime.

Northampton Police Captain Jody Kapser told 22News that none of the neighbors on Sherman Avenue were Jewish, so they didn’t felt targeted or intimidated by the vandalism. But the 14 and 15 year old girls, whose names are not being given out, allegedly egged a home at 5 Sherman Avenue, then egged a car and threw trash on it.

Another car was spray painted with a yellow line, while another car was spray painted with a swastika.

The girls then allegedly spray painted a tree with a swastika and the word “Jews.” Our 22News cameras noticed a tree on the street that had just been cut down.

Neighborhood resident Frederick Harris told 22News that he was shocked to hear what happened.

“We’ve never had any problems in this area as far as hate crimes or any racial problems that I know of,” Harris said. “For young kids, it’s very disturbing. I wouldn’t have thought that they would be doing something like this. At that age, you’ve got better things to do. It is shocking, especially in my neighborhood.”

The girls will answer to those vandalism charges at the Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court.

Statement by Mayor David J. Narkewicz on Sherman Avenue incident involving property vandalism and spray-painted swastikas:

The acts of vandalism that occurred on Sherman Avenue involving spray-painted swastikas and the word “Jews” are being fully investigated by the Northampton Police Department. That investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. The City of Northampton and the Northampton Police Department take very seriously any crimes potentially motivated by race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

Northampton is a city committed to diversity and tolerance and I condemn any acts of vandalism, regardless of motivation or location, involving historically and emotionally charged symbols of hatred such as the swastika. Acts that engender concern or fear for any member of our community are an affront to all members of our community.

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