Graffiti deemed to contain white supremacist and neo-Nazi messaging was discovered on a mural downtown.
In a news release on Wednesday, Jewish Voice for Peace VT/NH decried “the recent defacing of a community mural on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, with now covered-over swastika-like images and symbols of white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
“In our commitment to fight for the liberation of all people, we at Jewish Voice for Peace VT/NH oppose all expressions of white supremacy, neo-Nazism and antisemitism,” the group stated. “We believe in finding safety for our Jewish community within larger social justice movements and in solidarity with other groups of people who are committed to dreaming of and fighting for a more just world.”
Town Manager John Potter said Department of Public Works staff cleaned one piece of graffiti up on Saturday when it was first reported. On Thursday, they planned to try to remove two others that are on murals.
“These are more difficult to address without damaging the artwork,” Potter said.
According to the announcement, the graffiti “14/88” is generally associated with white supremacist organizing and “AB Turf” refers specifically to the Aryan Brotherhood. A Wikipedia article shared by JVP VT/NH states that “14” is from the Fourteen Words, a white nationalist slogan and “88” is from the abbreviation of “heil Hitler” as HH, with the letters replaced by their numerical position in the alphabet.
“While shocking, this type of graffiti and recruitment by white supremacist organizations is not new to our state or to southeastern Vermont, and is indicative of the national rise in white supremacist organizing,” the group said. “We organize alongside our siblings who also have been, and continue to be, targets of white supremacist groups.”
Brattleboro Assistant Police Chief Jeremy Evans said police are investigating to determine if a case could be brought to the State’s Attorney’s Office. For instance, if the artist provided an estimate to repair the mural, someone could be cited for unlawful mischief.
“We’re exceptionally sensitive to the current state of events and obviously any graffiti like that would be at a minimum wholly inappropriate and at most a crime,” Evans said.
JVP is described in the release as “the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world.” The group said it organizes “a grassroots, multiracial, cross-class, intergenerational movement of U.S. Jews into solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle, guided by a vision of justice, equality and dignity for all people.”