Marblehead Police are investigating antisemitic and racist graffiti discovered Thursday, September 8, at the Hamond Nature Center, 30 Everett Paine Blvd. The property is owned by the town’s Recreation and Parks Department, which runs programming there. It’s also the site of the former Camp Shore Lea.
“The whole back of the building was covered with bad stuff,” said Rec and Parks Dir. Peter James. He discovered the graffiti yesterday when he went to the building to check on its new roof.
“There were swastikas and racial slurs, antisemitic slurs. Not a lot of good stuff. I’ve seen graffiti before, but not in this amount.” James said the building’s back wall is 70-100 feet long and it was covered. The vandals used white, yellow and blue spray paint, he added.
“These incidents will not be tolerated in Marblehead, and we will conduct a full investigation using all available resources, while criminally charging anyone found responsible for this felonious act,” Police Chief Dennis King said in a statement.
King notified the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination and other town leaders about the graffiti Thursday night, according to Task Force co-chair Helaine Hazlett.
“I’m tremendously disappointed that this is ongoing and continuing,” she said. “Antisemitism is as high as it’s been in decades. I blame it on what’s going on politically and on the pandemic. People had all kinds of issues during the pandemic and it has led to scapegoating.”
Also on Thursday, King spoke to Marblehead News about the investigation into racist and homophobic graffiti discovered in late July inside a vacant Marblehead Housing Authority apartment at Barnard Hawkes Court.
“Somebody used a marker to go throughout the apartment and write different things. There were about a dozen markings on the wall,” he said. There were comments targeting a person at the Housing Authority. King declined to elaborate because the investigation is active.
“We are absolutely not surprised by this kind of incident anymore because it does fit into a town-wide pattern,” Rev. Jim Bixby with the Marblehead Racial Justice Team said, reacting to the Housing Authority case.
Last spring, there were several incidents of antisemitic graffiti at the Village School. There have been multiple cases of antisemitic, racist and homophobic graffiti in Marblehead parks and beaches and under the Village Street bridge.
King will be sending a list of hate graffiti incidents to the Anti-Defamation League so they can be included in the ADL’s heat map.
Still, Bixby remains optimistic about a more inclusive Marblehead.
“Every year, we see that more people are interested in turning this into a community of love and inclusion,” he said. “That’s where the future is.”
‘Foolish messages and some vulgarity’
In the last few months, police have also seen an increase if graffiti not related to hate speech around town, most recently at Seaside Park. There were three incidents at the tennis courts and another at the grandstand, King said.
“There’s nothing distinctive about it – foolish messages and some vulgarity,” he said.
There was another case at Forest River conservation area “with an anti-police tag.”
Anyone with information about any of the vandalism incidents is asked to call Marblehead Police at 781-631-1212.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.