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Racial slur, other graffiti found at Holocaust center, officials say

An image from surveillance video shows four people

An image from surveillance video shows four people entering the property of the Webb Institute Saturday about 10 p.m.   Credit: Glen Cove Police Department

Police are investigating the origin of a racial slur and other graffiti discovered Sunday scrawled at a Holocaust educational center in Glen Cove and the grounds of nearby Webb Institute, museum officials and police said Tuesday.

Glen Cove police Det. Lt. John Nagle said about a half-dozen pieces of graffiti, most of it nondescript, were found on the grounds of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County and educational center with more found on a brick retaining wall and other areas at Webb, an engineering college. Both sites are along Crescent Beach Road.

Nagle said the graffiti was discovered Sunday by patrolling officers. He said video surveillance footage from Webb captured four people around noon on Saturday, but so far, there have been no arrests.

He said investigators believe the incidents are related, based on the spray paint used in both, but said the sequence of events remained unclear Tuesday.

Nagle said it is not uncommon for officers to find graffiti on abandoned buildings on the properties and said Glen Cove police have made graffiti-related arrests in connection with previous defacing incidents. But, he said, the current graffiti was discovered in areas previously not "tagged." He said that as of Tuesday, Glen Cove had still not enlisted the efforts of Nassau County police hate crimes unit investigators.

"Most of it is just stuff crossed out on signs," Nagle said. "It sounds just like jerk kids, but you never can tell what's behind kids' minds."

The Holocaust center  is a nonprofit that since the early 1990s has leased property from Nassau County at the county-owned Welwyn Preserve, director of development Deborah Lom said. She noted that the center usually advises and counsels schools and their students after racial and bias incidents, which makes the situation even more alarming.

"We have had graffiti here, but as far as anything with a racial slur or anything like that, this is the first time," Lom said Tuesday.

She said one racial slur was found on a brick wall in the children's memorial garden at the site.

The center, in a statement, said, "With a great deal of effort, this ugliness may be able to be physically cleaned off, but the hurt and fear will remain."

The center "is an institution dedicated to fighting all forms of bigotry and hate and it is particularly impactful when we ourselves become a target of graffiti vandalism. ... Small acts of hate, if left unchecked, can lead to much bigger and more dangerous things," the statement said.  

A statement from Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) referred to the graffiti found in his hometown. "I will fight hate from my hometown to Washington, D.C." Suozzi said in the statement, which also voiced his support for the "Never Again Education Act."

That bipartisan bill would create a new grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to give teachers the resources and training needed to teach about the Holocaust "and the horrific consequences of hate and intolerance," the statement said. 

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