“LOVE WINS,” read the sheet quickly put up by a neighbor to cover the hateful graffiti found Friday morning targeting 16th Ave’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai on a day when even a box of old history books left innocently for the synagogue’s rabbi caused fear and uncertainty. If love wins — and is going to keep winning — it has some work to do around Capitol Hill and the Central District where Friday’s vandalism appears to be part of a string of similar property damage with messages hitting all of progressive Seattle’s deepest fears about the Trump administration.
I wonder if you all are collecting images and reports of hate related graffiti in Capitol Hill and the Central District. If so, I’d like to report this incident that I saw on the walk to my bus stop near the Douglas Truth branch Library at 23rd and Yesler. The words “Assimilate or leave” were spray painted on a board outside an apartment complex on Fir at 23rd. While perhaps not as outwardly disturbing as the hate speech written on the CH synagogue, this is troubling for the community of immigrants in the CD. I’m new to the area but I’m deeply upset to see this in a space where I watch children play and walk to school each day.
The apartment building where the message appeared is multi-family building near 23rd and Fir owned by the Seattle Housing Authority. The property contains 10 three-bedroom townhouse-style units. It is part of SHA’s Scattered Sites program that locates lower-density, low-income public housing throughout the city.
We’ve received notes about the same “assimilate or leave” message appearing in other areas nearby.
If you see similar vandalism, call 911 and report it immediately.
Seattle Police, meanwhile, have turned over the reports and evidence collected from the Temple De Hirsch Sinai incident to the department’s bias crimes unit.
The case joins a similar investigation from vandalism in Ballard in February. In that case, an SPD spokesperson said the tagging and proximity of incidents indicated that the property crimes were committed by the same person. The SPD spokesperson said while the department has a graffiti expert trained to recognize gang and personal signatures, that expertise doesn’t necessarily apply to investigating this type of hate messaging.
Overall, SPD has investigated 50 bias reports across the city so far in 2017 with 11 of those taking place in the East Precinct — around 22%. Since 2015, there have been 509 bias reports investigated with about 28% of those taking place on Capitol Hill, First Hill, or in the Central District. East Precinct bias complaints are, in general, more likely to be categorized as “race only” than in the rest of the city. In 2016, SPD investigated 25 complaints of “religion only” bias. It has already investigated 12 such reports in 2017 — eight of those targeting Jews and four targeting Muslims, according to the SPD data.