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Baltimore Police investigate hate crime at 'Miracle on 34th Street' Christmas lights display

Baltimore Police investigate hate crime at 'Miracle on 34th Street' Christmas lights display
Baltimore Police investigate hate crime at 'Miracle on 34th Street' Christmas lights display 02:20

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Police confirmed to WJZ on Tuesday that an act of vandalism along one of the city's most popular holiday attractions is being investigated as a hate crime.


Over the weekend, families at the two homes with Jewish decor along Hampden's "Miracle on 34th Street" found smashed watermelons in their yard.

One of the homeowners, Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, told WJZ's media partner The Baltimore Banner that his neighbor's cameras caught someone smashing the watermelons in his yard on Saturday.

The same thing happened at the home in Hannukah-themed decor.

Watermelons are often used as a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. The homeowner living at the Hannukah-themed decorated house told WJZ he didn't know the significance until Moskowitz explained it.

People WJZ met in Hampden on Tuesday said this type of action has no place anywhere.

"We don't need to see any more escalation of violence," Eric Bachmann said. "When people are vandalizing, it sounds like an escalation to me."

Antisemitic acts have been on the rise since the Israel-Hamas War started. The Anti-Defamation League has reported a nearly 400% increase in these types of incidents since Oct. 7.

There has been an increase in Islamophobia, too.

"You see it on college campuses, virtually every campus here in Maryland. We've seen it in high schools, we've seen it in communities," said Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. "The most recent incident over the weekend on 34th Street is just the latest example."

City Councilwoman Odette Ramos represents the Hampden neighborhood. In a statement, she said she spent time with the Jewish families on 34th Street over the weekend.

"It's very upsetting that something like this has occurred on a block that brings so much joy to residents across the city," Ramos said. "Antisemitism is unacceptable here."

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that he hoped for a thorough investigation into the incident.

Libit said having non-Jewish allies makes the difference.

"To know that we have so many allies...that's where we find comfort," he said.

Councilman Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer said on X that the incident is the consequence of not condemning antisemitism, referring to the failed resolutions condemning the attacks on Israel and antisemitism.

Earlier this year, Maryland officials made several million dollars in funding available to address hate crimes and enhance police recruitment in the state.

That funding consists of $5.3 million that will go toward nonprofit organizations, provided through the Protecting Against Hate Crimes program, according to state officials.

The FBI defines hate crimes as criminal acts motivated by the offender's bias against characteristics like race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.      

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