SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — Anti-Semitic vandalism in one of the most widely recognizable areas Santa Monica is raising concerns about the spread of hate in Southern California.
Against a breathtaking backdrop, scrawled on the pedestrian bridge of the world famous California incline: hate speech some say is symptomatic of heated political rhetoric.
"I'm surprised to see hate speech in general," said visitor Sean McKendry. "But it doesn't surprise me considering what's going on in the news and what we're encouraging as a nation."
The folks at the Anti-Defamation League agree, and say the political climate is just one factor in an alarming trend ranging from vandalism to the deadly synagogue shooting in Poway, California in April.
"It is also a function of events, like Charlottesville, that just unleashed a lot of people to come out from behind the shadows of the internet and out into public," said ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind. "There's less shame."
The ADL says the surge in anti-Semitism is the greatest in states with large Jewish populations. In California, an audit found hate incidents and crimes against the Jewish community soared by 27 percent in 2018. Now, the organization is calling for more education on the Holocaust as one way to combat anti-Semitism.
"There are still those of us alive — my grandmother survived Auschwitz, my father was rescued on the kinder transport to London — so we're still around. We can still tell these stories in a personal way," Susskind said.
The City of Santa Monica quickly painted over the hate graffiti after it was reported. Police officers patrolled the area near Pacific Palisades Park for other vandalism but said they found none. They urge anyone who may see hate graffiti to call authorities and the ADU.
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