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Swastikas, hate messages plastered on Calabasas balcony

Park Sorrento in Calabasas
A pedestrian in Calabasas looks toward the Park Sorrento condominiums, where a resident posted offensive signs on the second-story balcony of a unit.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A Calabasas neighborhood has taken offense at a series of foul, hate-filled messages plastered to the balcony of a condominium unit, at least one of which specifically targets President Trump, and authorities say they are investigating.

Police received a call about 12:50 p.m. Tuesday about the images in the 23400 block of Park Sorrento, said Maria Lucero, a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.

The signs, which show Nazi emblems alongside American flags and profanity-laced diatribes, seem to call out several politicians, including Mike Pence and Mitt Romney. It was not immediately clear who posted the signs, which were still affixed to the outside of a second-story unit Wednesday.

“There is no place for hate in our community,” said Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub.

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The incident has struck a nerve in the community, which has a large Jewish population.

Park Sorrento Condominiums in Calabasas
A resident of the Park Sorrento condominiums in Calabasas posted several disturbing and offensive signs on a condo balcony.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Weintraub said the city was cooperating with authorities. The mayor said she met with other residents of the condominium complex Tuesday night and, on Wednesday, with the occupants of the unit with the offensive display. Officials and residents are hoping the signs will be removed quickly.

Sheriff’s deputies say no overt threats have been made, and Lucero said she believed this was the first kind of hate incident in Calabasas.

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According to an annual report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, the number of hate crimes targeted in the county increased in 2018 despite a slight dip in the overall number of hate crimes reported statewide.

A 2019 report from the California attorney general’s office also noted incidents targeting Latinos and Jewish people in the state surged in 2018, which experts have blamed on vitriolic rhetoric over nationalism and immigration, as well as emboldened hate groups.

“In the past decade, in hate crimes overall, the two worst months nationally were November 2016 and October 2018,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. “Both were national elections, so we’re very concerned about international tensions.”

Levin also credits the normalization of Nazi symbols and “coarse” social media as factors progressively increasing the number of hate crimes. Last year was the worst for hate crimes overall in the three largest U.S. cities — New York, L.A. and Chicago — since 2001, he added.

“We have [the] mainstreaming of anti-Semitism,” Levin said, and “when society becomes polarized and fragmented and trust in communal institutions declines, the kind of universal recipient of that hate — or at least the first exit on that freeway — is anti-Semitism.”


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