Residents in a section of Drexel Hill awoke Friday morning to swastika stickers posted in their neighborhood.
“It’s a cowardly act,” Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt said. “It was done overnight. We’re looking for video. We haven’t found anything yet. There is no groups or persons that we know of right now.”
Bernhardt said swastikas were attached to stop signs and telephone poles along the area of School Lane and Brookfield Road in the Drexel Park section of Drexel Hill. He added that another was dropped on a driveway.
@UDPolice tweeted that signs had also been seen along Long Lane.
“Residents have recently discovered antisemitic literature posted on stop signs and lying about sidewalks and yards in both the Drexel Hill and Long Lane sections of the township,” the police tweeted. “We want you to know that we are aware of it, and we are working to identify the person or people who disseminated the items. If you have surveillance footage or any useful information, it would be greatly appreciated. You can call us at 610-734-7693.”
Bernhardt said these acts are not acceptable.
“It has all the workings of antisemitism and hate speech,” the police superintendent said. “My frustration is very high. This hatred towards any group cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Bernhardt said he would be reaching out to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer but said he is limited by the confines of the law.
“There’s nothing we can do criminally,” he said. “It’s their right. It’s their speech. It’s time for our state legislators to come up with something. This type of bigotry and propaganda should not be tolerated.”
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer condemned the acts.
“As the son and grandson of Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland because of the horrors inflicted by the Nazis, I condemn in the strongest terms the presence of this graffiti on our streets,” Stollsteimer said. “The ideology embraced by neo-Nazis has no place in our community, and the bigotry and intolerance that these symbols represent must be emphatically rejected. I have confidence that the Upper Darby Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation, and that the community will remain vigilant to determine the source of this graffiti. Delaware County is an inclusive and tolerant place, and law enforcement will work hard to ensure that those values continue to be respected.”
State Sen. Tim Kearney, D-26, of Swarthmore, said incidents like these are why he introduced S.B. 63 to expand Pennsylvania’s protections against hate crimes to more targeted groups facing discrimination.
He issued a statement following news of the Upper Darby swastikas.
“As an elected official representing the people of Delaware County, I strongly condemn the presence of neo-Nazis in our community,” it read. “Their hateful and bigoted ideology has no place in our society, and we must stand together to reject it in the strongest terms possible.
“As one of the most diverse counties in our Commonwealth, the presence of neo-Nazis in our county is not only a threat to the safety and well-being of our citizens, but it also undermines the values of inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance that we respect,” it continued. “We must remain vigilant and take decisive action to ensure that hate groups are not allowed to gain a foothold in our community … I call on all residents of Delaware County to join me in condemning neo-Nazism and all forms of hate and bigotry. Let us work together to build a community that is inclusive, respectful, and welcoming to all, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or background.”
Bernhardt said all area police departments were notified of a similar event in Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County earlier this year. He said he would also be reaching out to that police department.
He also said he would be checking with other departments in Delaware County.
In the meantime, residents reeled with the findings Friday.
“I’m horrified,” resident and Divided Equals Zero entrepreneur John Leister said. “I can’t believe it.”
Leister and other neighbors found swastikas posed on the back of street signs in the Drexel Park section of Upper Darby on Irvington Road and on Huey Road, in the area of the SEPTA Route 101 trolley.
Kerian Adamo said her husband saw swastika stickers on the back of stop signs while walking the dog Friday morning. She said he removed at least one of them.
Leister said that’s how he saw the stickers, too.
“My wife and I went out for a walk,” he said, adding that he saw stickers on signs and also found a flier on the stoop of a house.
Leister said the flier had a website on it and it said, “Stand up, white man.”
He said there was an advertisement for a movie on the back of it.
“We kept walking and a few houses later there was a police officer talking to a woman at her front door,” he said.
Leister said he found a swastika sticker at Huey Avenue and Irvington Road.
“I found that sticker that I scraped off the sign,” he said.