A jewish family discovered antisemitic graffiti depicting images of what appeared to be a version of a swastika, a Star of David and some initials covered the outdoor brick of the restroom building in the park.
Alaina Golen was shocked; she said it felt strange to see such inappropriate and hateful symbols in a place filled with carefree families — the same place where she and her husband were married.
Golen wasn’t sure who to call about the graffiti, so she took a photo and posted about the issue on social media in an effort to crowdsource a solution.
After leaving the park Thursday April 22, she posted a picture of the vandalized bathroom wall on the Cloquet Neighbors Facebook page. The post was received over 100 comments from Facebook users voicing their concerns.
Among the people to see the Facebook post was Cloquet’s at large councilor, Lara Wilkinson, who discussed the issue with city staff. On Friday morning, staff went to the park and removed most of the paint with a power washer.
“Thank you all for caring about this,” Wilkinson posted in an update to the Facebook group Friday morning. “The racist nature of some of the graffiti was especially unacceptable. There is room in our community for broad perspectives and beliefs, but there is NO place for racism in Cloquet. None of us should tolerate it.”
Golen shared that she was happy to see a unified community response condemning the vandalism, as well as the quick action taken by city officials. “It was nice to see that everybody was pretty upset,” she said.
While Golen believes teenagers were likely responsible for the vandalism, some residents expressed concern about possible gang affiliation with the graffiti markings. According to Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall, there is no evidence suggesting links between the vandalism and gang-related activity.
This is not the only instance of vandalism Cloquet has seen recently, with other markings of graffiti being reported around other areas of town.
City Administrator Tim Peterson explained that it would appear the vandalism is occurring sporadically, with multiple locations being tagged with the same type of image. He said one other swastika-type symbol has been found in the city.
He asked that anyone with information on the current case to contact the Cloquet Police Department and anyone who witnesses vandals in action to call 911 or the Cloquet Police Department, call 218-879-1240.
There are no active suspects in the case.