Jewish community reacts to racist graffiti at Godwin H.S.


HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In recent weeks, swastikas, hateful words and threats like ‘kill Jews’ were sprayed on buildings and signs throughout Richmond and Henrico.

“They’re talking about me, they’re talking about my family, they’re talking about my community,” Temple Beth-El Rabbi Michael Knopf said. “So, it’s impossible to not take that personally.”

The latest incident happened at Godwin High School in Henrico Sunday morning.

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“When you see words and symbols like this you’re immediately nervous or scared or concerned,” Jewish Community Federation of Richmond Chief Executive Daniel Staffenberg said.

Hate-filled graffiti is a problem the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond said has become more public.

“We’ve seen rising acts of hate across all, not just Anti-Semitic but against our African American friends, Muslim, Christians,” Staffenberg said. “So, it’s unfortunately not surprising and that’s actually what’s scary.”

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“Words become reality so we have to be vigilant about it, but we’re fortunate that it wasn’t somebody,” Knopf said. “God forbid, going into a Synagogue with a gun.

Both men say steps to preventing things like this and other hate crimes should come from legislators.

“To not speak out when one group is targeted gives license to the same people to perpetrate acts of violence, either verbal or physical, against other groups as well, Knopf added.

Knopf and Staffenberg say they take the safety of their community very seriously and have been taking steps of their own to protect their groups and congregations.

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