Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Pittsburgh PA Area Police Investigating Antisemitic Hanukkah Incident

Pittsburgh Police and the FBI are investigating an antisemitic hate crime that occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 29.

The Jewish victims had their car windshield smashed, and a large white swastika was spray-painted on the front of their home. Additionally, their Black Lives Matter and Stronger Than Hate yard signs were stolen. The incident occurred in Highland Park.

Police were alerted and responded immediately after a neighbor reported a “commotion” and described what they had seen and heard, according to Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

“Law enforcement is investigating this fully,” she said.

While both the FBI and the police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, Brokos said there have been no additional reports of other similar incidents in the neighborhood.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors responded to the incident in Highland Park in an “overwhelming show of support of the victims,” Brokos said.

“Immediately after this happened, I had multiple people request Stronger Than Hate signs that they could place in their yards as a show of support and solidarity,” she said. “The community outreach and support was absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to the strength of our Pittsburgh community.”

Many community members arranged to have Stronger Than Hate printed themselves, Brokos said, and she received multiple calls and emails from neighbors asking how they could further help by raising awareness of bias crimes.

In a Dec. 1 Facebook post, the Highland Park Community Council wrote: “With a heavy heart — and an angry one — I’m writing about an anti-Semitic crime here in Highland Park. On Monday night, the second night of Hanukkah, a swastika was painted on someone’s home and their car windshield was smashed. One of the things I love most about our neighborhood is that it’s small enough that we really feel like a community. The HPCC is committed to making our neighborhood welcoming to all. We hope that everyone will join us in this mission.

“Please speak out against acts of hate and words of intolerance,” the post continued. “But also, let’s go one step further and commit to living with our neighbors in peace…. In this season of holiday — Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa — we want you all to know peace and joy, safety and comfort, in your homes, our community, and in this great, wide world.”

On Dec. 2, in another Facebook post, the Council encouraged people to put pictures of menorahs in their front windows “to make the point that hate will not be tolerated in Highland Park.”

Pittsburgh was the site of the most violent antisemitic act in the history of the United States in October 2018, when a gunman entered the Tree of Life building and murdered 11 Jews worshipping in three congregations there.

Last summer, three members of the Orthodox community were verbally assaulted by an assailant in Squirrel Hill, and a week later, an Orthodox man was physically assaulted near Murray Avenue and Bartlett Street while walking home from Shaare Torah Congregation. Those incidents are not believed to be related to the recent incident in Highland Park.

The hate crime investigation of the Highland Park incident is ongoing.