After discovering anti-Semitic and white supremacist graffiti on a Marblehead beach last week, residents and politicians rallied Monday morning in a show of public resistance against hate.
On Friday, a kayaker discovered graffiti on a causeway depicting a crossed-out Star of David and the words “Make America Great Again” and “KKK is here” among other anti-Semitic and pro-Trump references.
Around 200 people turned out to Riverhead Beach on Monday morning to condemn the hateful markings, according to rally organizer Robert Trestan, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office. State Representative Lori Ehrlich, who represents Marblehead, helped publicize the rally, dubbed “Marblehead Unites Against Hate.”
Religious leaders from various faiths, elected officials, and community leaders spoke at the event, according to Trestan.
“One of the things that I think is important to note is, what happened, it’s not about politics, it’s not about disagreement. It’s a criminal act of hate,” Trestan said in an interview. “Today’s gathering is an indication of how strong Marblehead is when faced with a challenge. And it’s an important message that anti-Semitism and hatred is not representative of this community.”
Ehrlich said the graffiti was the third incident of anti-Semitic vandalism that Marblehead has seen in a little over a year. In April 2016, residents found a swastika drawn on a basketball court. And in August, someone shattered a window at Marblehead High School and scrawled “Jews did 9/11” in the dirt of the school’s baseball field.
She said her constituents were “disgusted and saddened” that there had been another incident.
“The perpetrators are cowards,” Ehrlich said. “They did this in the cover of darkness, they didn’t own their words, and they have no purpose in mind except to spread hatred. And today the community sent a message that that’s unacceptable and not what we’re about.”
At the conclusion of the rally, Trestan announced a reward of $3,000 for information about the graffiti’s perpetrator. Over the weekend, $2,500 was pledged by an anonymous donor, and an additional $500 was offered by a rally attendee during the event.
The local department of public works and the Essex County sheriff’s department team of “graffiti-busters” removed the graffiti over the weekend, Marblehead Police Chief Robert O. Picariello said. Picariello said the investigation into the graffiti’s origins is “ongoing and active.” Trestan and police have requested that anyone with information contact the police department at 781-631-1212.Claire Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.