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Graffiti Vandals Strike in Beverly Hills

September 30, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

Vandals drove through Beverly Hills and spray-painted graffiti on more than a dozen homes and businesses over the weekend, covering at least two walls with slogans or symbols that police described as anti-Semitic.

Up to 18 structures along Wilshire Boulevard and streets to the north were scrubbed down by city cleaning crews Sunday morning after the messages were discovered. The graffiti insulted the president, the United States and Arnold Schwarzenegger, police said. Other statements both derided and complimented Kobe Bryant and the nation of Israel. "Basically, they were anti-establishment," said Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mitch McCann. "It looks like they were trying to get people riled up."

Authorities declined to state what the graffiti said, saying they did not want to hamper their investigation, but a spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League confirmed that one image was a swastika. The ADL, which monitors racist organizations and instances of hate crimes, said it found the statements troubling because they coincided with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. "Incidents like this are often discounted as being done by kids," said Amanda Susskind, the ADL's regional director. "We don't regard it that way. It's a very serious hate crime."

Police said the vandals struck late Saturday and early Sunday. Investigators did not have a dollar estimate for the damage, but said it appeared to exceed $400 and would therefore make any criminal charge a felony.

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