BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | A number of swastikas and a racial slur were found drawn inside of Asphalt Green’s Upper East Side campus earlier this week.
A member of the sports facility noticed the swastikas in the family changing room sometime late Wednesday and notified employees sometime between late Wednesday night and early afternoon Thursday, according to Sarah Bennett, Asphalt Green’s chief marketing officer.
When police arrived at Asphalt Green on Thursday, they found a total of six swastikas drawn with black marker on a light switch, door, ceiling and walls surrounding the door. The N-word was also found written in black marker on a hair dryer in the room.
Custodians have since cleaned off all the markings from the changing room.
“I am deeply disturbed to hear of yet another anti-Semitic attack in my community,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney in a press release. The congressmember was notified of the disturbing drawings by an Asphalt Green representative late Wednesday night.
“Sadly, this incident is part of an alarming spike in anti-Semitic attacks, hate crimes and rhetoric throughout New York City and our nation,” Maloney added.
Earlier this year, the representative introduced the Never Again Education Act as a means to combat anti-Semitism in her district and across the nation. If passed, the bill would create a federal fund to finance grants to public and private middle schools and high schools to help teachers develop and improve Holocaust education programs.
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017 annual report, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States spiked roughly 60 percent between 2016 and 2017.
On Oct. 27 of last year, 11 Jewish worshipers were slain by a right-wing gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. More locally, last November, the office of a Columbia University professor was vandalized with swastikas. The same month, a pair of swastikas were sprayed onto a concrete platform in the Hudson River near W. 72nd St. Swastikas and “KKK” were also written on a newspaper box at W. 100th St. and Central Park West.
“I am saddened to report that an incident of vandalism occurred at Asphalt Green’s Upper East Side campus on Wed., March 6, in the AquaCenter family locker rooms,” said Maggie Siegel, the complex’s executive director, in a mass e-mail sent to the sport facility’s members.
Siegel added that the Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime and that more security has been requested for the campus.
“Discrimination is not tolerated at Asphalt Green,” she said. “We are inclusive of people from all races, religions and backgrounds. I am disheartened that such a hateful act occurred within our community.”
The investigation into who drew the swastikas and slur is still ongoing, according to police.
Anyone with information regarding this incident, should call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips on the Crime Stoppers Web site at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering TIP577.