Vandalism reports raise anti-Semitic fears for community members, condemnation from city officials

Madison police reported property damage and vandalism on the west side of Madison Saturday that statements from Jewish Community members later characterized as anti-Semitic in nature.

The police report referenced at least 25 different cases of graffiti within the 10 block of East Newhaven Circle, an area that is part of the James Madison Memorial School District.

“The damage primarily consisted of offensive words or symbols that were spray-painted on personal property,” Madison Police Department Lt. Timothy Strassman said in the report.

Later Saturday, the Jewish Federation of Madison released a Facebook statement, saying “[the vandalism] was real, it was scary, and it was disappointing.”

“All acts of anti-Semitism and hatred need to be confronted and strongly condemned,” the Jewish Federation of Madison said in its statement.

Charlie Kaplan, a student at Middleton High School and an active member of the Jewish community in Madison, learned of the news after receiving a text from his mom Saturday morning regarding the incidents.

“It was obviously upsetting, but to be honest I wasn’t really shocked,” Kaplan said.

MPD and Mayor Paul Soglin released new statements Monday regarding the series of anti-Semitic vandalism.

“In the City of Madison, we have no tolerance for the recent racist and anti-Semitic property damage to homes on Madison’s west side,” Soglin said regarding the incidents, further citing his support of the investigation and his hope the perpetrator[s] receive lawful punishment.

The mayor asked that citizens continue to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity in neighborhoods.

“It is up to all of us to make Madison a welcoming place to live, work, play and raise a family,” Soglin said in the statement.

Despite the language used, MPD has not identified a clear link indicating the vandalism intentionally targets specific victims based on race or religion. Until then, it cannot be classified as a “hate crime” according to the state law. If proof is found, MPD will recommend the district attorney to use this classification to press charges, according to the updated incident report.

The investigation is still ongoing, according to the report.

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