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Swastika found on storage container in Billerica draws outrage

A swastika was found on a storage container in Billerica last weekend, and town officials are condemning it as “an act of cowardice and ignorance."

“Covering over the graffiti will be an easy task, erasing the pain and hurt caused by the use of that symbol is much harder,” Town officials and the Billerica Interfaith Association wrote in a statement on social media Tuesday.

“For our Jewish Community this symbol is an act of violence and a threat to their sense of security and well-being in our town,” they wrote.

A Billerica woman discovered the swastika on Saturday and called the police, Billerica Town Manager John Curran said.

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The symbol was immediately removed from the container, which sits in a parking lot on Andover Road next to a Little League field, a Korean War memorial, and a playground, Curran said.

Curran said the swastika had been on the container since Dec. 23. Officials do not know who put it there, he said.

“That symbol represents some of the darkest times in humanity and we take that seriously, regardless if it’s done out of ignorance or malice,” Curran said. “We don’t want to dismiss it just as kids pulling a prank because that symbol represents hate."

Another swastika was found in Billerica on the side of an abandoned school in November 2016.

Officials wrote in Tuesday’s statement that they support Billerica’s Jewish community, and will work to “dismantle systems from which these hateful acts emerge.”

“People are upset that something like this is still happening in 2020,” Curran said.

Residents shared their anger, and disbelief, over the incident on Facebook.

“As a retired Billerica special needs teacher who included all, my heart is broken! This is not and will not be our Billerica,” Peg Connaughton Grange commented on the town’s post about Tuesday’s statement.

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“I hope they catch who ever did this and give them community service and educate them about the Holocaust. They probably have no idea, no education and no heart. That is very sad,” Jina Barie commented on the post. “This is America, the melting pot of the world.”

Caroline Enos can be reached at caroline.enos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.