On April 11, 2017, an unknown suspect approached the Greenridge Place Memory Care Center and decided to carve a couple of swastikas in the wet cement just outside the building. The Center is located in Westminster, Colorado. While the staff at the Center do not believe they were being specifically targeted by the message, it is still considered a hateful crime of property damage.
A few local firefighters who happened to be passing by noticed the symbol immediately. They carefully took
the time to smooth out the swastikas by hand until they were unnoticeable. If that wasn’t enough to restore your faith in humanity, even more kindness continued in the coming days.
Later that week, a man stopped by the center to deliver emotional support and a wonderful surprise for the patients and employees. His name is Rabbi Benjy Brackman of Chabad from Northwest Metro Denver. In an effort to console the community, he carried “loaves of love,” more commonly known as loaves of challah bread.
“This is the first time in my recollection we’ve had a swastika incident in the city of Westminster,” he said. “I felt that response was necessary and I had to say something.”
This is one of the latest in a series of vandalisms and crimes of this nature. Recently, the Washington Post reported that a neighboring Jewish community center and church in Fairfax County, Virginia were defaced with swastikas and discriminatory language.
The incident was described by the director of the Jewish community center as particularly painful considering that it happened during Passover. He also stated, “We retell that story generation to generation every year so that we never forget. It’s a painful reminder of how ugly and dangerous the world can be, but also how we can overcome it.”
It seems that since the 2016 presidential election, barriers between Americans have only become more prominent. Many feel that some of the divisive rhetoric that was a big part of the president’s campaign has served as encouragement and fuel for extremist groups to voice their opinions. Pastor David Lindsey from the church that had been attacked said that he was not surprised that they were selected. Their sign that read “Say NO to anti-Muslim bigotry” was crossed out and spray painted over it were the words “Jesus knows no traitors.” It had been an effort to reach out to their neighbors of other faiths, and had received mostly positive responses. “Every once in a while you’re going to get an incident,” he said.
Regardless of the reasoning, seeing a community come together in the face of adversity is enough to lift anyone’s spirits. Those looking to spread love instead of hate continue to stand on the right side of history, knowing that everyone needs to be reminded that they are cared for, especially in the face of hate speech and discrimination.
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