ST. PETERSBURG -- Police are investigating after officers discovered graffiti on an outside wall of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg early Thursday morning, including a swastika and antisemitic language.
Sanitation workers painted over the graffiti, which included the words "Jews are guilty". Detectives are investigating this as a hate crime and are reviewing surveillance video.
St Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman said it showed his city is "not immune from hate."
The Florida Holocaust Museum issued a statement, quoted in part: “This act of hatred demonstrates that the work of the Florida Holocaust Museum is more important than ever,” said Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director of The Florida Holocaust Museum. “We remain committed to our vital mission to prevent future genocides and educate people about the dangers of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred. Clearly, our society still has a long way to go. The Museum deeply appreciates the responsiveness and professionalism of the St. Petersburg Police Department and its dedicated officers.”
Michael Igel, Chairman of the Board, added: “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, this attack on the Museum is not just repugnant. It is personal. The lessons of the Holocaust have not yet been learned, but the Museum and the broader community who supports our vital work will never be intimidated by cowardly vandals, nor will we be deterred from our mission.”
A spike in antisemitic incidents has followed recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, in and near the Gaza Strip.
Photo: St Petersburg Police Dept (graffiti message blurred by editor)