Friday, August 29, 2008

Swastika painted on Jewish school

A Pleasant Valley School District employee arrived at work Friday morning and found a swastika painted on her office door. It is the second time this summer that such graffiti has appeared overnight at the school district-owned property at Ventura Boulevard and Elm Drive in Camarillo. The facility used to be Los Primeros Elementary School but now houses offices and Gan Camarillo Preschool, a Jewish school affiliated with Chabad of Camarillo. The preschool and its summer day camp, Gan Israel, rent two classrooms to accommodate about 30 students.
Eight other properties — some of them residences — were also hit with graffiti overnight, said Ventura County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ross Bonfiglio. The markings included swastikas and hate speech, he said, and one was a slur directed at African-Americans."Whenever you are doing good work, there's the negativity that tries to stop it," said Rabbi Aryeh Lang, who ran the preschool from his home until it moved to its current site last year. "We're strong and proud of who we are, and we will give that to our children."A similar act of vandalism occurred at the school district property on July 11. After that, Ventura County sheriff's investigators arrested three men in connection with other hate-crime vandalism incidents that occurred in Camarillo over the past year.It's unknown whether the Friday incidents are related to previous crimes of a similar nature, according to a prepared statement issued by authorities.Laurie Matson, a program specialist with the school district's Preschool Early Education Program, discovered the graffiti scrawled on the door Friday when she arrived at the program office. She called the Sheriff's Department, and the swastika was cleaned off by 10 a.m.Lang said he plans to speak with other religious leaders in Camarillo and city officials about the incidents. "It's important when something like this happens that people of all faiths — good people — come together and say, we won't tolerate this,'" he said.Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact Detective Peter Seery at 383-4800.

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