Someone spray-painted the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia with anti-Semitic graffiti overnight on the first night of Passover, and police are still looking for a suspect or suspects.
Among the hateful messages, "Hitler was right" was spray-painted across an entrance of the JCCNV, which is located on Little River Turnpike in Fairfax. A swastika and an "SS" symbol were spray-painted onto exterior walls.
“As painful as this is, it’s even more painful for it to happen on Passover,” executive director Jeff Dannick said.
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He said he felt sick as he pulled up Tuesday morning.
“Nausea, I would say tears," he said. "We hear about these kinds of acts, we see them in the news, but when you drive up to a place that you visit every day and you see this on your building, it’s devastating. It’s absolutely devastating.”
The nearby Little River United Church of Christ also was vandalized, with swastikas, anti-LGBTQ messages and anti-Muslim signs. "Defend America; No Muslims," was written across the front door.
“We’re trying to help, we’re trying to welcome people and be friendly, and this is what you get for it?" churchgoer Michael Alt said. "It’s just stupid.”
“It’s just heartbreaking to see this kind of thing happen today," said the pastor, the Rev. Dr. David Lindsey.
He said he suspects the church was targeted because it is open to diversity.
“We’re an open church," he said. "We’re always glad to have folks come to worship here and every so often gently remind them that trespassing and damage of property is in fact a felony.”
The acts of vandalism were discovered Tuesday morning.
Fairfax County police said they believe the vandalism took place between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
"...We are disheartened and deeply disturbed by the anti-Semitism our campus has experienced today," Dannick said in a statement Tuesday. "We will not be deterred from our mission of being an open and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds as we continue our operations as normal."
The JCCNV plans to keep its current security measures in place, the statement from the center continued.
The center has been covering over the hateful messages with brown paper for the time being.