Jewish Defense League
Offers Reward in Graffiti Case
The Daily Courier (Prescott
Newspaper) Front Page:
Friday, January 12, 2001
PRESCOTT – The Arizona chapter
of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) is offering a $1,000 reward for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for spray-painting
threatening, anti-Semitic graffiti on the headquarters of Prescott’s Safe
Schools, Safe Students.
Vandals have struck
the Miller Valley Road headquarters of the organization, which features
a nationwide anti-bullying hotline, four times since late October, and
its director, Rod Beaumont, said that volunteer employees, mainly students,
have received threats.
But a dispute exists
over whether the attacks are truly hate crimes or just garden-variety vandalism.
“By its appearance,
it looks like a hate crime, but we need something more than we have to
really show that,” said Prescott Police Detective Larry Martinez.
“In a hate crime, it’s usually directed at a person, but there’s nobody
over there I’ve heard of who’s Jewish.”
Ian Rakow, chairman
of the Arizona chapter of the JDL, said the spray-painted messages, which
included threats and references to Hitler, are prompting a serious response
from his organization.
“This is not a game,”
Rakow said. “This isn’t funny and we’re taking this very seriously.”
And while local police
do not know who is responsible for the repeated acts, Rakow said he is
certain it is the work of more than one individual.
“It’s not one person
who did this; it’s too much damage,” Rakow said, going on to intimate that
Prescott authorities are downplaying the possibility of the presence of
organized hate groups.
“Nobody wants to admit
that there are problems in Prescott, but there obviously are,” he said.
Prescott has a history
of attempted start-ups by white supremacist groups, but police say that,
for a number of reasons, the groups have never taken root.
The attacks on Safe
Schools, Safe Students reached felony levels because the cost of the clean
up exceeds $250.
Meanwhile, a Phoenix-based
FBI official said they have the report on the case and are evaluating the
necessity of an investigation under federal statutes.
Anyone with information
on the case should call Prescott police, 778-1444, Yavapai Silent Witness,
1-800-932-3232, or the JDL, (602) 242-2221.