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Swastikas spray-painted on famed African American mural in Crenshaw, police say

"They did this to make a statement, and we showed them that we wouldn't even let this stay up by the time these kids got out of school at Crenshaw High," says the artist whose mural featuring the Black Panthers was defaced with swastikas.

Four swastikas were found painted across the face of a Crenshaw mural depicting African American women Thursday morning, police said.

Los Angeles police took a report about the incident shortly before noon near the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and 48th Street, LAPD Officer Jeff Lee said.

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No suspects are in custody, and Lee described the vandalism as an “isolated incident.” The case is being investigated as a possible hate crime, and officers are canvassing the area for witnesses or surveillance video, Lee said.

The mural, “Our Mighty Contribution,” depicts a number of African Americans icons including Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, as well as several Black Panthers holding guns, according to Jasmyne Cannick, a political consultant who said she immediately contacted LAPD Chief Michel Moore after she was alerted to the vandalism.

The swastikas — each of which covered the face of a female Black Panther — were cleaned off by the artist Enkone, who helped create the mural, Cannick said.

“People just have always had a lot of respect for that mural and what it represented in the community so even though this is a city like full of graffiti, that mural was usually untouchable,” she said.

Cannick said the area is home to a number of businesses and attracts a lot of foot traffic, making it hard to believe someone was able to paint such hateful symbols unnoticed.

“For a community that already feels like it’s being pushed out, and we have very little left around here,” she said. “That wall is kind of a big deal.”

The incident comes less than a week after a Seattle man was accused of yelling anti-Semitic slurs before driving his car toward two Jewish men who were leaving a Hancock Park synagogue.

Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, 32, pleaded not guilty this week to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and police have labeled that case a hate crime as well. Mohamed’s family has issued a statement saying he is mentally ill rather than hateful.

Hate crimes in Los Angeles have increased only slightly in 2018, rising from 223 at this time last year to 231 as of Monday, police said.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said the incident is a reminder that racist attacks can happen just as easily in Los Angeles as they might elsewhere.

“When people think of racism like this, they think about some far-off time in some far-off land. But this is today, in South Los Angeles, on Crenshaw. These are swastikas on Black faces,” she said on Twitter. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

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