DEWITT, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It didn’t take long for the staff of the Jewish Community Center to pick up the mess, but to them, the crime is about more than property.
“This was a hate crime as far as I’m concerned,” said Executive Director Marci Erlebacher.
Israeli flags in the grass in front of the JCC were kicked over and stomped on by who appears to be a young man, surveillance video shows.
The executive director said it “chilled” her “to the bone” to watch the video and see the suspect was recording his vandalism himself, almost with pride.
The crime is being investigated by DeWitt Police.
“Those flags symbolize something,” said Erlebached. “Those flags symbolize our connection in some way to Israel… and somebody tried to destroy that.”
The night before, the flags were stuck into the lawn to welcome nearly 400 people to the JCC campus for a rally in recognition of the attack on Israel.
Erlebacher is confident in her building’s security, having focused on hardening enhancements after bomb threats in 2017, but she doesn’t want to rest on that.
She said: “When I saw this individual doing it, I wasn’t fearful, I wasn’t concerned, but it brought a reality to my doorstep… We’re good here, but we need up the game… and we are.”
There have been more police patrols on the JCC campus, but on Wednesday, the executive director announced the addition of an armed guard on duty during the day.
Police are hoping the public can help investigators identify the suspect. Anyone with information can call 315-449-3640 or by email at email@example.com.