Marblehead Select Board member Jackie Belf-Becker on Wednesday night condemned the most recent antisemitic and racist graffiti incident in Marblehead.
She opened the Marblehead Select Board meeting expressing absolute disapproval of the antisemitic and racist graffiti discovered on Sept. 8 at the Hamond Nature Center, 30 Everett Paine Boulevard, also known as Camp Shore Lea. The property is owned by the Marblehead Recreation and Parks Department and it runs programming out of the nature center.
“This latest incident at Camp Shore Lea is very frustrating and emphasizes how our efforts must not slow down,” said Belf-Becker. “The police under Marblehead Police Chief Dennis King are working hard to find the perpetrators.”
Marblehead Parks and Recreation Director Peter James discovered the graffiti when he visited the building and checked on its new roof. He told Marblehead News the whole 70-to-100-foot wall in the back of the nature center was covered in what he described as an overwhelming amount of spray-painted swastikas and racial and antisemitic slurs.
“This behavior is not a prank,” said Belf-Becker on Wednesday night. “This behavior represents an aspect of our society that has to be condemned and educated.”
Mosses Grader, the Select Board chair, characterized the Camp Shore Lea incident as despicable.
“Another expression of hate and resentment against Jews as a group and Blacks as a group?” he said. “It’s appalling.”
There have been similar incidents in Marblehead in recent years. “Jews did 9/11” was spray painted on a softball field in 2016. A kayaker in 2017 found spray painted, hate-filled graffiti along the Marblehead Veterans Memorial seawall. Two months ago, racist and homophobic graffiti was found in a vacant Marblehead Housing Authority unit at Barnard Hawkes Court.
King told the Marblehead Reporter in 2021 that catching the vandals is difficult.
“Often times, in my experience, it’s a matter of time,” he said.
Belf-Becker implored the Marblehead community to take the incidents seriously.
“Grassroots efforts on a local level have a positive effect,” said Belf-Becker. “Every parent, every church and synagogue, every organization in town has to discuss how deleterious this type of action is to the fabric of our society.”
Grader echoed Belf-Becker.
“We must try to act with love, compassion, and enlightenment with one another, no matter how difficult, not because we are seeking to project moral virtue, but it’s absolutely necessary for one’s psychological health,” he said.
He added, “Or as Jim [Nye] often says, ‘Just be kind.'”