Police investigate Nazi-themed notes

Oak Park residents, local temple receive anti-Semitic threats

Chabad+of+Oak+Park+discovered+notes+praising+Adolf+Hitler+on+its+doors+Feb.+11.+The+temple+has+faced+anti-Semitism+as+recently+as+2010%2C+when+a+note+was+spray-painted+on+its+walls+%28reprinted+with+permission+from+Ventura+County+Sheriff%C5%9B+Department%29.
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Police investigate Nazi-themed notes

Chabad of Oak Park discovered notes praising Adolf Hitler on its doors Feb. 11. The temple has faced anti-Semitism as recently as 2010, when a note was spray-painted on its walls (reprinted with permission from Ventura County Sheriffś Department).

Chabad of Oak Park discovered notes praising Adolf Hitler on its doors Feb. 11. The temple has faced anti-Semitism as recently as 2010, when a note was spray-painted on its walls (reprinted with permission from Ventura County Sheriffś Department).

Chabad of Oak Park discovered notes praising Adolf Hitler on its doors Feb. 11. The temple has faced anti-Semitism as recently as 2010, when a note was spray-painted on its walls (reprinted with permission from Ventura County Sheriffś Department).

Chabad of Oak Park discovered notes praising Adolf Hitler on its doors Feb. 11. The temple has faced anti-Semitism as recently as 2010, when a note was spray-painted on its walls (reprinted with permission from Ventura County Sheriffś Department).

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The Ventura County Sheriff’s department responded to multiple reports of anti-Semitic notes in Oak Park Saturday, Feb 11.

The notes arrived amid a wave of 68 bomb threats toward Jewish Community Centers across the nation since early January, and the desecration of nearly 200 Jewish graves at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri Feb. 20.

According to a police statement by Detective Tim Lohman, four unknown male suspects placed threatening cards on the doors of seven houses, as well as the Chabad of Oak Park, a Jewish temple. The cards comprised hand-drawn swastikas and threatening messages, such as “You’re gonna burn” and “Hail Hitler,” a misspelling of the German salute “heil.’”

“With the exception of the Chabad of Oak Park, it appears the notes were randomly placed and did not specifically target Jewish residents,” Lohman wrote.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Oak Park resident Stuart Craner — who is not Jewish — found a note on his back door,

“Mine, it said ‘prepare yourself.’ And I’m thinking, for what?” Craner said in his interview with CBS Los Angeles.

Based on surveillance footage captured by one of the homes, Lohamn wrote, investigators believe that the suspects are 15 to 20 years old, and from the area.

Following release of the footage to the press, the Sheriff’s Office received numerous tips, according to Detective Marta Bugarin.

“We’ve been getting some leads; people have been calling. We’ve been following up on leads, but nothing concrete yet,” Bugarin said. “We’ve spoken to many people, but we haven’t identified anyone as an actual suspect yet.”

Because the incident is considered a hate crime, the Sheriff’s Office has created a task force with Federal Law Enforcement with the intent to pursue criminal charges. Detectives are conducting an ongoing federal investigation to find these suspects, and have made visits to local high schools.

[The incident] just really shows how, as much as we think we’re empathic as a community of other cultures and religions and races, that we’re really not; there are a lot of people who have really strong opinions, and those opinions are negative at times,”

— Rose Saban

“We’re cooperating with law enforcement,” Principal Kevin Buchanan said. “I did get a visit from the Ventura County Sheriffs who were asking if we could recognize any of the individuals from the video that they had and if we’ve had any incidents on campus.”

After initially being informed of the threats by superintendent Tony Knight, Buchanan notified campus staff.

“We decided we better notify teachers that there have been these incidents in the neighborhood,” Buchanan said. “And then we sent out another email with a copy of the video to ask them if they recognized any of the individuals.”

However, if the suspects are found to be Oak Park High School students, it would be difficult to justify school discipline, according to Buchanan.

“[The incident] was not on campus and my jurisdiction — it does extend beyond campus in certain areas — but, in this particular situation, this was off campus and outside of school. Unless it is related to a school activity [such as a field trip], or on campus or causes a substantial disruption of the instructional program, I wouldn’t have any jurisdiction,” Buchanan said.

This is not the first time that Oak Park has experienced anti-Semitism.

 

In 2010, the same Chabad of Oak Park was vandalized. The words “Get out of Oak Park” were spray-painted onto the front wall of the temple following expansion plans.

Senior Rose Saban, a member of Chabad of Oak Park, said that she was saddened to hear that the temple was defaced again.

“I’m sure that they’re equally upset about it because that’s supposed to be a place where people go to pray and connect to their religion, and it’s being mocked and defaced,” Saban said.

Following the anti-Semitic threats, the Chabad has received support from the community. Oak View High School teacher Susan Allen dropped off a card signed by her students at the temple’s door.

“[The incident] just really shows how, as much as we think we’re empathic as a community of other cultures and religions and races, that we’re really not; there are a lot of people who have really strong opinions, and those opinions are negative at times,” Saban said.

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