CHICAGO — Just days after the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, the West Rogers Park community is dealing with a spree of attacks targeting the Jewish community.
Police told WGN News that a person of interest is in custody after vandalizing buildings and defacing property with antisemitic graffiti during the Sabbath over the weekend.
Police add that the person in custody likely acted alone and may be responsible for previous, similar attacks in the area.
On Sunday, a swastika was found spray-painted on the backside of the Free Russian-Jewish Community Synagogue near the corner of Devon Avenue and Richmond Street.
Police said a man tagged the building and a cargo container and verbally assaulted a man before fleeing the scene.
On Saturday, the Concerned Citizens League was made aware of three separate incidents where windows were broken.
The CCL said a location near Devon Avenue and Richmond Street, as well as the Tel Aviv Bakery, had their windows smashed.
“Whoever did it needs to understand we are all the same people, all God’s people,” said Walter Richtman, owner of Tel Aviv Kosher Bakery. “We need to be treated equally.
Rabbi Levi Notik, of F.R.E.E. Synagogue, says the community will remain positive amid trying times.
“We’ll overcome this hate, this darkness, by being good, kind and being good and caring for one another,” Notik said. “Light is stronger than darkness.”
Another synagogue near Devon Avenue and Monticello Avenue had windows broken as well.
The incidents prompted 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein to release the following statement:
“I am very upset to report that there were multiple distressing incidents in our neighborhood this weekend. Public safety is of the utmost importance, and the Chicago Police are closely investigating each case.
Vandalism was discovered at several local Jewish institutions and businesses. The police are still investigating whether the incidents are connected and if they were carried out by the same person or group of people. No official pronouncement has been made on a possible motive, but these have all the hallmarks of hate-based crimes.
These incidents are particularly upsetting as they come mere days after Holocaust Remembrance Day and in light of a worrying increase in antisemitism across the nation.
I want to assure everyone that the City of Chicago stands firmly with the Jewish community. The police are taking these incidents very seriously, as am I and all the City leadership. Hate has no place in this neighborhood, and bigotry will not be tolerated.
In an unrelated incident, on January 29 just after midnight, there was a shooting on the 6900 block of N. Western. A male was shot once and transported to St. Francis Hospital in stable condition.
The shooting is being investigated by Area 3 Detectives, and I will update you when more information becomes available.
In the meantime, I urge everyone to practice situational awareness and always pay attention to your surroundings. If you see anything suspicious, please call 911.
I am as upset as you are by this news. The 50th Ward is a safe and caring neighborhood, and these incidents are not in line with our values. I will continue to communicate with the police, and I will update you when any more information becomes available.“50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein
The Jewish community thanks CPD on Monday for their diligence over the weekend, vowing to stick together.
Joined by Light and Chicago police, Silverstein hosted a community meeting, saying that the city will be paying extra attention to all places of worship in the Jewish community.
“We need to stamp out hate wherever it rears its ugly head,” Lightfoot said.
Gov. JB Pritzker also addressed the attacks, stating on social media that “his heart goes out to the entire West Rogers Park community.” The governor added that “there is no place for this kind of hate.”