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Swastika Found at Immigration Help Center Assisting Israelis


The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a vandalism incident at the Guatemalan May Center in Lake Worth Beach as a possible hate crime. When employees arrived at the center located at 430 North G Street on Thursday morning, they found a swastika spray-painted onto the building next to front-door entrance.

Also spray-painted onto the building were two messages: “Voting won’t stop us this time” and “God Bless America.”

The Center has provided services to immigrant families, including undocumented workers, for three decades. Lucia Barnes, the center’s assistant executive director, said her staff and volunteers were shaken and concerned for their safety.

“Should we, God forbid, get prepared for a shooting or something like that?” Barnes said. “It’s a very scary situation.”

PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera confirmed the incident was under investigation. She added that vandalism charges could bring a hate-crime enhancement, which increases the penalty for an offense if the victim is targeted because of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.

Barnes said the center, which is run almost entirely by grants and donations, does not have cameras on the property or private security. “We don’t have the resources,” she said.

The center assists 1,000 families a month, although all services are now being provided by phone as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. While most of those seeking assistance are from Guatemala or other Central American countries, the center also works with immigrants from other parts of the world including Israel and India.

As of Thursday afternoon, the graffiti remained on the building’s wall. Barnes said the center was working with a nearby paint store to cover the swastika and written messages.