Swastikas painted on elementary school; community responds with love

Posted at 9:55 AM, Nov 21, 2016

DENVER -- Vandals spray-painted swastikas on a Colorado elementary school over the weekend.

The vandalism at Isabella Bird Community School in Stapleton was quickly overpowered by acts of love and compassion on Sunday.

The Denver Police Department said vandals might have hit the school Friday. Spokeswoman Raquel Lopez told Fox 31 the case is being investigated by detectives.

"We condemn this deeply offensive act and stand together with our Stapleton neighbors in opposition to this and all forms of hatred and discrimination. This type of hateful expression has no place in our society, and is not in any way a reflection of our neighborhood or of the Stapleton community," said Rabbi Mendel Popack with the Stapleton Jewish Life Center.

Popack said this is the first time he has encountered this type of anti-Semetic bigotry since the founding of his center more than three years ago.

Before the graffiti was removed, members of the community responded by posting messages of love on colorful paper hearts near a swastika painted on a door. By Sunday night, most of the graffiti had been washed away.

"It was heartwarming to see all the beautiful messages of love and support at the scene of the incident," Popack said.

Just hours after it was first noticed, people from different religious backgrounds came together with their children to turn the vandalism into a teachable moment.

"It makes me feel happy when I see how much people care about this," one girl said.

The children already know there's no room for intolerance and hate in the world.

"I think the good beats the bad," one young child said.

Popack said they are planning a special parade as a "display of public unity, solidarity and religious freedom."

"The Jewish Life Center is announcing a public Menorah car parade to take place on Dec. 27. The parade will begin at Isabella Bird Community School, travel throughout Stapleton, and culminate at the east crescent of the Stapleton Founders Green for the annual Public Menorah Lighting," Popack said. "All residents of Stapleton are invited to join irrespective of affiliation or religion."