Nassau police and its Crime Stoppers department are looking for...

Nassau police and its Crime Stoppers department are looking for the person or people responsible for spray painting anti-semetic slurs in the Sea Cliff area. Credit: NCPD

A recent spate of graffiti in Sea Cliff -- including swastikas -- has left some residents shocked that the vandalism occurred in what they described as a community comfortable in its diversity.

"It's hard to believe it can happen here," resident Eva Rodali, 60, said as she walked her dog near St. Boniface School, one of six locations Nassau County police said have been tagged with swastikas and other graffiti since Dec. 27.

"This is such a blended community," Rodali said. "You have Jews, Armenians, Asians here. It's like LA, but a little LA. And everybody seems to accept each other." Rodali, who is Jewish, lives not far from Glen Avenue, where on Jan. 8 another woman found a swastika drawn in black marker on a panel of her garage door.

Police are investigating the incidents and treating them as potential hate crimes "because of the volume of cases, the variety of locations," said Det. Lt. Gary Shapiro, the department's bias crimes coordinator. "We're trying to find out the actual motivations."

Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy has asked for and received additional Nassau police patrols since Dec. 30. He did not know how many additional officers are patrolling the village, but said it appeared to be twice as many as usual.

Ralph Suozzi, mayor of neighboring Glen Cove, has instructed police there to pay special attention to all religious institutions.

In addition to the St. Boniface building, which is used by St. Boniface Martyr Parish for events and not operated as an educational facility, police said graffiti was found at Central Park on Sea Cliff Avenue, as well as homes on Main Avenue, Littleworth Lane and Arlington Place between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. At those five locations, graffiti included swastikas or the words "White Knight" or the letters "WK."

But Kennedy and Rabbi Irwin Huberman of Congregation Tifereth Israel, a synagogue in Glen Cove, cautioned that the graffiti did not appear to be specifically targeting Jews. The homes belonged to both Jews and non-Jews, Kennedy said. Huberman said nothing about the homes would have indicated a Jewish person lived there.

Nonetheless, the use of swastikas is upsetting because it evokes painful Holocaust memories, Huberman said.

"We see this as an isolated series of events," he said, "It's an extremely unfortunate choice of imagery."

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