Anti-Semitic graffiti discovered at the Anne Frank Memorial | North West
BOISE – Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted overnight in three tunnels along the Boise Greenbelt near the downtown Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, according to Boise Police.
The graffiti included spray-painted swastikas and targeted Jews and other minority groups, according to Police Chief Ryan Lee. The city was made aware of the graffiti early on Saturday.
“We were able to work quickly with the Parks Department to respond and cover up the graffiti,” Lee said in an interview with the Idaho statesman at the memorial.
The degradation included at least a dozen graffiti along the walls of the Greenbelt tunnels.
The graffiti was discovered during Hanukkah, a major eight-day Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. The memorial near the Greenbelt in downtown Boise commemorates the life and spirit of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl whose family hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam for more than two years during WWII global.
The hideout of the Frank family was eventually discovered by the Gestapo, the German secret police, and Frank died in a concentration camp in 1945. About 6 million Jews were killed by the German state and its collaborators during the Holocaust.
“Absolutely obnoxious conduct, and we’re not going to just sit back and let it be,” Lee said of the graffiti.
Parks and Recreation officials painted over the graffiti, which was in three Greenbelt tunnels on both sides of the memorial, early Saturday. Lee said he came downtown later in the morning to make sure the messages were not visible through the paint and that he brought more paint with him.
“If that meant we had to get brushes and paint ourselves, we were going to do it,” he said.
Lee said the investigation into the incident is ongoing, but that he does not believe there are threats against the Jewish community in Boise.
“We don’t think there is any reason to have increased security concerns, especially for the Jewish community,” he said.
In an emailed statement, Mayor Lauren McLean said the graffiti was a “literal and figurative stain on our community. This will not be tolerated. “
“Hate speech is wrong. It’s not who (we) are as a city and it’s not part of our shared values, ”she said in the statement. “I invite all the good people in Boise to stand with me, as I am with our Jewish neighbors, to rebuke this hatred.”
In a tweet, Boise Police said the department had contacted Jewish leaders in the community, letting them know the “behavior” would not be tolerated.
Last month, a swastika was painted on the Idaho Building at North Eighth Street and West Bannock Street. And in December 2020, stickers with Nazi images were left all over the Anne Frank memorial.
Lee said it was too early to say if either previous incident was related to the graffiti found on Saturday.
“We recognize that for many members of our community, even non-Jewish members, it doesn’t make them feel safe; it doesn’t match Boise’s image of hospitality and kindness, ”Lee said. “This is why we wanted to remedy it quickly; that’s why we take it so seriously.
Lee added that he believes this type of graffiti is motivated by “hateful ignorance.”
“I wish we could improve ourselves. Unfortunately not everyone does it, ”he said.
Rabbi Dan Fink, of the Ahavath Beth Israel congregation on Boise Bank, told the Statesman by phone that he had been disturbed by the rise in anti-Semitism in recent years.
“People from all political backgrounds need to speak up and say very clearly that this is not acceptable,” he said.
Fink said he heard about the graffiti on Saturday morning when Chief Lee called him about it, and appreciated the support from the Police Department and the Boise community.
“There is a lot of support there,” he said.
He added that part of the Hanukkah holiday is a commemoration of religious freedom and a celebration of light.
“This graffiti is darkness, and there is darkness there,” he said. “And so it’s up to us – every citizen of Boise and beyond – to be a light in the darkness, for the light is more powerful than the darkness.”