Jewish woman says camera caught neighbor drawing swastika on her seltzer

Closeup of a box of seltzer water with a symbol written on it in marker.
A box of seltzer water has a swastika symbol that a woman alleges was put there by a neighbor.
(Courtesy of Leah Grossman)

Leah Grossman was having trouble with her homeowners association, but the 48-year-old West Hollywood resident said she never thought one of its board members would draw what appeared to be a swastika on her belongings late at night.

The incident was captured on video, Grossman said, as one of her neighbors, then a member of the association board, walked over to her front door, pulled the cap off a black marker, and drew a symbol on a box of seltzer water she’d left outside her door.

“I was so shaken,” Grossman, who is Jewish, told The Times. “This panic just washed over me. I was shaking.”


The incident followed instances when she clashed with the now-former member of the board, including accusations — from both sides — of barbed words being traded, and alleged complaints over Grossman hanging an Israeli flag from her balcony.

Her first thought after the late-night incident, she said, was relief that her two children, ages 9 and 11, were already in bed.

She too was getting ready for bed on Dec. 5 when, sometime after 10 p.m., she said she got an alert on her phone that someone was at her front door.

The alert caught her attention because not only does she live in a corner of the condominium building that receives little to no foot traffic on most days, but also it was late at night.

VIDEO | 01:01
West Hollywood resident says neighbor drew what appeared to be a swastika on her groceries

The woman, who is Jewish, says the incident caught on video followed clashes with her homeowners association.

In the video, a man Grossman identified as neighbor Mark Nakagawa is seen walking toward her door, pulling the cap off a black marker, and drawing on a box of seltzer water that Grossman had forgotten to bring inside earlier that day.


After witnessing this on her front-door camera, Grossman then pulled open her door.

“Is there a problem?” the woman is seen in the video saying as Nakagawa walks by her door.

“No,” he is heard saying.

“Is that the Nazi sign?”


“What is that?”

“I’m just walking by here, I don’t know,” he answers.

“I saw you,” Grossman says. “I have a camera. Like, what is that? What did you draw there?”

“I don’t know,” Nakagawa answers before walking away.

The incident, Grossman said, has left her distressed.

The following day she filed a report with Los Angeles police, according to records shared with The Times. Police declined to pursue the case, she said.

Her homeowners association, however, did take some action after she contacted the management company saying she was afraid of having contact with Nakagawa.

Nakagawa did not return multiple messages seeking comment from The Times.

A few days after the incident, Grossman received a letter from her homeowners association’s legal counsel, informing her that Nakagawa had agreed to resign from the board and also to stay away from Grossman or anyone who was visiting her at the building.

“This is to clarify that Mr. Nakagawa’s alleged conduct was in his individual capacity, not in his capacity as a member of the Association’s Board of Directors, and such conduct was not expressly or impliedly authorized, sanctioned, endorsed, ratified or otherwise consented by the board,” the letter reads.

Grossman said she’d butted heads with her HOA in the past, especially over her complaints that needed repairs were not done. She’d clashed during one HOA meeting, in particular, with Nakagawa when she told the member of the board that she felt the HOA was being run like a “fascist dictatorship.”


She claimed Nakagawa called her a fascist for hanging an Israeli flag on her balcony.

Grossman said Nakagaw tried to contact her after the incident on Dec. 5, but she refused to answer messages and hung up on him.

Nakagawa told KCAL that Grossman called him a fascist, and told the news station he’d wanted to “educate” Grossman about origins of the symbol, referring to the Buddhist “manji” symbol.

The manji symbol, which resembles a swastika, faces the opposite direction. The symbol Nakagawa drew on the box of seltzer, though it resembled a swastika, was not accurately drawn like either of the two.

“The way I went about it, in hindsight, the way I went about it was not the right way to go about it,” he told the station.

Grossman said she didn’t buy the reason. She pointed out that the comment about her flag occurred days after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

“Personally I’m afraid of him, and I know that may sound dramatic,” she said. “I just want to be left alone.”