Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Friday that she will ask the board to approve a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever burned two swastikas into the synthetic front lawn of a San Dimas home.
“These are blatant symbols of hate and violence that have a serious and troubling impact on everyone in our community,” Barger said in a statement. “Those responsible should be held fully accountable for their actions.”
Either late Wednesday or early Thursday someone branded Ted Ferris’ property in the 1400 block of Greenhaven Street with two swastikas by pouring a corrosive substance into the synthetic turf.
Authorities say the same person or group is thought to have also burned two other swastikas on the pavement of West Tudor Street, about a block from Ferris’ home.
Ferris is not Jewish and was puzzled why anyone would vandalize his yard in such a way.
He and his family have lived in the home at Greenhaven Street and South Valley Center Avenue for 34 years. They’ve dealt with drivers hitting their concrete fence, and some occasional graffiti to that fence, but never anything this hateful or offensive.
“My first reaction?” said Ferris, a 69-year-old retiree. “If I knew who did it, I’d choke ’em — and that’s [saying it] politely.”
Ferris switched to synthetic turf about seven years ago, when the drought made it too costly to keep a lush lawn. Now he hopes insurance will cover the $6,000 it will probably to take to replace the damaged spots.
L.A. County Sheriff’s Sgt. Peter Shupe of the San Dimas station said that because Ferris isn’t Jewish authorities weren’t investigating the act as a hate crime, but he said a felony vandalism report had been taken.
Shupe said it was probably teenagers “just being little jerks.”
Regardless, the reported uptick in swastika graffiti across the country is worrisome to local Jewish and anti-hate leaders.
Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, said that not only is the frequency of reports of swastika graffiti concerning, but so is the cavalier nature of vandals defacing a range of places with the symbol.
In January, a group of students at an Ojai middle school lay down in a field, forming the shape of a swastika.
Last month, students in Newport Beach made national headlines when they were seen posing around a swastika made of Solo cups, some with their arms raised in a Nazi salute.
The Anti-Defamation League found the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose 57% in the United States in 2017.
“There’s no other symbol like it,” Moss said. “What symbol exists that evokes that kind of hatred and fear, and provocation as well? As the executive director of the Jewish federation in this area, I’m always concerned when I hear there are swastikas, no matter where they are.”