A green and white 11 ft. swastika drawn across the southbound lane of South Tongass Highway appeared Wednesday morning. The spray-painted antisemitic and white supremacist symbol drew widespread condemnation from community members.
Hannah Bayles was sitting on Rotary Beach with a friend, just up the road. She said it’s distressing. “It feels like a space has been created where people feel comfortable doing that without fully understanding the impact that it has on our community members,” Bayles said.
One passerby who said she’s of Jewish descent called the graffiti disgusting and hurtful. She didn’t want to be identified out of fear of being targeted by white supremacists.
The first vandalism appeared over the weekend on a trail and skatepark near Schoenbar Middle School, but the latest outbreak was south of city limits. Ketchikan police say they’re still investigating the first incident, but the latest graffiti is out of their jurisdiction.
An Anchorage-based Alaska State Troopers spokesperson confirmed that they’re investigating.
“At this time troopers have no suspects or leads,” spokesperson Austin McDaniel said in an email Wednesday. “We have informed Ketchikan Police Department and are investigating any ties between the recent two instances of graffiti. If anyone has any information they are asked to contact Alaska State Troopers in Ketchikan at (907) 225-5118.”
Ketchikan police have also yet to publicly identify any suspects. Lt. Andy Berntson said the graffiti near the middle school included a social media handle that was misspelled.
Anyone with information about either incident can call Ketchikan police’s anonymous tip line at 225-CLUE.