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Swastika Carved into a New York Ice Cream Parlor

At first, Howard Cadmus said, he wasn’t sure he wanted to publicly reveal that someone had carved a swastika inside Sweet Jenny’s in Williamsville.

But Cadmus said he and his wife, Tara, decided staying quiet about the symbol of hate felt like condoning the act of vandalism.

He said he has appreciated the outpouring of support in response to his Facebook post and news interviews since the weekend incident. Many commenters said they made donations to charitable organizations to offset the symbol made infamous by Nazi Germany.

While some suggested sanding down the emblem, Howard Cadmus, who is Jewish, used a blade to turn the swastika into a square containing the letters “L-O-V-E.”

“In a community where people are so caring it shows that, I think, love is stronger than the hate,” Cadmus said in an interview Wednesday.

Howard Cadmus said an employee made the initial discovery at 10 a.m. Monday, as the ice cream and chocolate shop in the historic Williamsville Water Mill complex was opening for the day. The Cadmuses co-own the store and related businesses along Ellicott Creek.

The swastika, about the size of a John F. Kennedy half-dollar coin, was carved into the wood above the doorway inside a first-floor restroom.

Howard Cadmus said the vandalism likely took place sometime Sunday.

Kassidy, the employee who first saw the symbol, is transgender and initially was distraught that it might have targeted her, Howard Cadmus said.

There was no message accompanying the symbol, but Cadmus said carving it seems like a more deliberate act than, for example, writing it in pen.

Cadmus and his wife are Jewish but it’s not clear whether the vandal knew this. Cadmus said he has ancestors, through his mother’s family, who survived the Holocaust.

“My initial feeling was just a profound sadness at the symbol,” said Cadmus, who called it “a profound representation of hatred and intolerance and antisemitism.”

When Howard and Tara Cadmus first encountered the swastika, they weren’t inclined to publicize what had happened.

“We were just going to let it go,” they wrote Tuesday afternoon in a Facebook post.

But, the Cadmuses said, they decided they needed to take a stand against bigotry.

That’s why they shared a photo of the vandalism along with a lengthy statement on Facebook, where Sweet Jenny’s has 30,000 followers.

“Remember that hate is an open attack on tolerance and acceptance and it must be countered with acts of goodness,” the couple wrote.

The post has received 460 likes and spawned 130 comments as of Wednesday afternoon. Seven hundred people liked a follow-up post that read, “Hate has no business here.”

Commenters vowed to visit the shop for the first time or promised to make donations to the Anti-Defamation League and similar organizations. One person told Cadmus it gave her the motivation to speak up about painful micro-aggressions directed toward her son.

Several people offered to help buff out the swastika, but Cadmus opted to use a box cutter to turn the symbol into a square divided into four sections, each containing one letter of the word “love.”

Williamsville Mayor Christine Hunt praised the Cadmus’ and the investment they have made in the village. She said she’s troubled by the discovery of the hateful vandalism.

“Unfortunately there are still those in our society that support and promote such behavior,” Hunt said in a text message Wednesday. “But in the end, and as Howard has chosen to approach it, goodness and love will prevail.”

Cadmus said he didn’t report the incident to Amherst police. He said he and his wife don’t believe criminal charges are an appropriate way to address what happened.

He said he would like to find out whether the vandal was aware what the swastika stands for. And, if he had the chance, Cadmus said he would tell the vandal, “I really hope you find a way to find love. Because life without love is meaningless.”

Cadmus said he also wonders whether the vandal acted in response to the diversity seen among Sweet Jenny’s customer base.

“Maybe someone came in on that Sunday and saw that we have people who are of the Muslim faith, and we have people who are Indian, and we have people who are Black, and we have people who are Jewish, sitting all day,” Cadmus said. “I mean, our whole, entire outside plaza is wonderful. It looks like America.”

Source: https://buffalonews.com/news/local/sweet-jennys-williamsville-swastika-discovered/article_4d699546-1b4e-11ee-8648-fba8058d3d8f.html