GLENDALE — The second hate crime directed at Armenians in less than a week prompted leaders of Glendale's Armenian community to speak out Thursday against the perpetrators' "ignorant, hurtful and unlawful behavior."
Workers at Alex's Sports Cards, an Armenian-owned business at 925 E. Broadway, discovered a Nazi swastika and an anti-Armenian slogan inscribed in black ink on the store's front door when they arrived at work Wednesday morning, according to police reports.
Arshavir Maleki, who opened the business 14 months ago, said that when he called police to report the vandalism, he was unaware that the writings might be considered a hate crime.
"But then the police told me it was directed against Armenians," he said. "I don't know who could have done it, we're a small business and we don't have trouble with anybody."
It was the fifth reported hate crime in Glendale this year, and the third hate crime directed at Armenians, said police spokesman Chahe Keuroghelian.
Last weekend, an Armenian woman found the initials for "white power" written on her car window after shopping, and earlier this year an Armenian family reported receiving threatening phone calls.
Vicken Sonentz-Papazian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee's Glendale chapter, said in a prepared statement that his organization was "very disappointed and disturbed" by the latest hate crime, and that "this type of crime only serves to divide our community."
"I think a lot of these things are born out of ignorance," Papazian added in an interview. "We need to educate people to accept and appreciate our different cultures. People are using Armenians as scapegoats for their own fears."
Since 1986, the Glendale Police Department has been keeping tabs on all crimes aimed specifically against a person or group's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
Nearly half of the reported hate crimes have been aimed at Armenians or Armenian organizations. The most serious incident occurred in April, 1994, when the headquarters of an Armenian scouting organization was defaced with swastikas and anti-Armenian slogans, police said.