NEW YORK — The headquarters of the Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn was gutted by a suspicious fire early Wednesday and its walls were found smeared with obscene graffiti and swastikas.
No one was in the civil rights group's offices when the fire broke out at 5:35 a.m., but the blaze destroyed reams of the organization's financial documents and papers, including many collected from illegal immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens.
Fire marshals and police investigators reported that the fire was of suspicious origin and said it apparently started in the stairway leading up to the offices in the two-story building.
Standing amid the charred furniture, CORE spokesman Al Starks pointed in disbelief at the damaged furniture and red spray-painted graffiti on the walls. There were no racial slurs, but there were several swastikas and misspelled obscenities.
Starks called the fire arson.