CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- The Chattanooga Police department is investigating a vandalism incident that happened in downtown Chattanooga.
Mayor Berke’s office says that the Walnut Street Bride and portions of the Bluff View Art District were defaced with swastikas early this morning.
Mayor Berke released a statement that said:
“Early this morning, I learned that the Walnut Street Bridge and portions of the Bluff View Art District, two of our city’s most beloved and beautiful public spaces, had been defaced with swastikas. The Chattanooga Police Department is investigating and I have every confidence that the vandals will be identified and brought to justice soon.
While we do not know the intent of those who perpetrated this act, we know that the end result if residents feeling less comfortable in their home. Out city is resolved, as it always has been, to condemn anyone who seeks to intimidate, discriminate, or foment violence against any ethnic or religious group.
Our Public Works crews will be working this Sunday to remove these symbols of hate from our bridges and walls. Our entire community will continue to work together, day after day, year after year, to make it clear that these kinds of destructive acts and attitudes have no place here.”
The Jewish Federation of greater Chattanooga also released a statement that said:
“On behalf of the Community Relations Committee, a representative body from the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, we are disturbed and saddened to find Nazi swastikas painted on the Walnut Street Bridge and in the Bluff View Arts District in Chattanooga this morning. The swastika, an anti-Semitic symbol, has become representative of white supremacy and hate groups around the world. As a united Chattanooga Jewish community, we stand against all forms of hate. As a faith community, as good citizens and as Americans, we condemn this act of antisemitism in the strongest of terms. Hate against one is hate against all.
Michael Dzik, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation said “It’s a surreal feeling to see acts of antisemitism in my hometown. I take this and any act of anti-Semitism and all forms of hate very seriously. I have always known that the Nazi swastika and white supremacy go hand in hand. Although unsettling and disturbing, this only gives the Jewish community more resolve to continue fighting against hate. Additionally, we will continue building bridges of friendship with all peoples and all communities. I am confident that the Jewish community does not stand alone in this effort to eliminate antisemitism and all forms of hate; we are stronger together.”
Rabbi Craig Lewis of Chattanooga’s Mizpah Congregation said, “I would like to thank the city of Chattanooga for taking swift action to repair the damage and for providing assurances for our protection. Sadly, we have seen this before with swastikas used to frighten and intimidate. While the swastika has become a universal symbol of prejudice, it holds a very specific meaning for the Jewish people who saw six million of its own people murdered under the Nazi banner. It is especially troubling at this time as we are on the cusp of the Jewish new year. As we enter into a period of reflection and atonement, we invite the entire community of Chattanooga to join us in considering how to foster an environment of acceptance and equality for all.”
Austin Center, Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Committee said, “Having lived in Chattanooga my whole life, and hearing the news today that someone painted Swastikas on the Walnut Street Bridge and the Arts District made me sick to my stomach. We, as a Jewish community, spoke out when the Rock on University of Tennessee’s campus was painted with Anti-Semitic remarks. We spoke out when Nashville’s Holocaust Memorial was desecrated. And today, in my hometown, we speak out. Our history is built on overcoming the odds and working to better our community. As we condemn these acts of hate, let us each strive to teach others acts of kindness and respect.”
We will keep you updated as we learn more.