Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Aug. 10, 2022

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Vandals deface Felida park with swastikas, tear down Pride banners at Vancouver taproom

By , Columbian staff writer

Two separate incidents involving hate were reported this week in Vancouver’s Uptown Village and in Felida.

When Brandon Rush arrived at his Thirsty Sasquatch taproom at 2110 Main St. on Wednesday morning, he found his LGBTQ Pride flags torn down and his Pride rainbow stickers defaced, he said. One of the window stickers had feces smeared on it.

Rush didn’t hesitate to label the vandalism a hate crime, especially because June is Pride Month.

Although he wanted to draw awareness to the fact that hateful attitudes toward the LGBTQ community still exist, he said that otherwise, the response to his rainbow decor had been very positive.

“I think it’s just important for people to know that this isn’t over — this stuff still exists,” he said of the vandalism.

Rush believes the vandalism happened overnight. He said the last employee left the business around midnight; he arrived at 6 a.m. Wednesday to find the damage.

Rush was quick to buy three new rainbow banners to replace the destroyed ones and was hanging them by Wednesday afternoon.

“I know it means a lot to people and everyone should be able to feel safe in their own town,” he said. “That’s all we can do to fight that kind of ignorance — it’s just keep doing, just keep using our voices.”

He reported the vandalism to the Vancouver Police Department and said he plans to install a camera outside the business.

Swastikas at Felida Park

Marta Gray goes walking in Felida Community Park all the time, but what she saw there Monday was appalling, she said.

Gray noticed swastikas spray-painted onto trees surrounding the park’s parking lot. Later, she noticed them on the handicapped parking signs, too.

As a longtime teacher at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, she said she was in shock at the graffiti.

“The last place kids should feel unsafe is in their neighborhood park,” she said.

She filed a police report and called the county, she said, to urge officials to paint over the symbols immediately.

“This is not who we are,” she said. “We don’t have this set of values in our community. Our community is so generous. Our community is so accepting. This is not the message we want displayed in our community.”

Rabbi Elizabeth Dunsker was concerned to hear about the symbols and said Gray shouldn’t be the only one to feel that way.

“When images that are known to symbolize violence are put in public places, it is bad for everyone,” she said. “I don’t want to say this is specifically an attack on Jews, although that’s what most people see when they see that. I think it’s an attack on the entire community, and the entire community needs to say, ‘Not in our place.’”

Gray is also calling for cameras and better lighting at the park, especially because she said the police told her there’s not much they can do because there is no way to identify the vandal.

In the meantime, Gray worries the symbols could point to more widespread antisemitic and intolerant views in the community. Dunsker pointed to the fact that national incidents of antisemitism are rising.

“I’m hoping to God that this is not an organized hate group,” Gray said.

Gray also called friends to warn them against bringing their kids to the park until the symbols are removed or covered.

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