By ELIZABETH DEPOMPEI
News and Tribune
FLOYDS KNOBS, IN (NEWS AND TRIBUNE) - Police are investigating graffiti depicting swastikas and other images on a sign at a Floyds Knobs retirement community.
Cassie McCoun, an administrator at Azalea Hills retirement community on Lafayette Parkway, said the graffiti was first reported around 5 a.m. Monday, though she wasn't sure who called it in. McCoun and other staff became aware of it soon after.
By Monday afternoon, the sign was covered with white tarp, with plans to finish repainting it on Tuesday.
McCoun said she does not think the vandalism was targeting a specific group, but rather that it was likely "a bunch of kids." Floyd County Sheriff Frank Loop echoed that thought.
"I'm sure it was just some kids vandalizing," he said.
One side of the sign was covered in two red swastikas and the words "wer (sic) here." Loop said the other side of the sign had an image of male genitalia painted over it.
"So that kind of reinforces what they and I are thinking, it's probably just some neighborhood kids," Loop said, adding that the same image was painted on nearby portable bathroom units in a storage lot about a year or so ago.
McCoun said she was unaware of any other vandalism in the area and described the community as safe and vigilant. The community has about 65 residents and is surrounded by a neighborhood of roughly 250 homes.
The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council learned of the incident and contacted local officials, along with its Louisville chapter and the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago.
JCRC Assistant Director David Sklar said the goal is to make local officials and other organizations aware of such incidents so that they know someone is taking action, and to gather additional information.
While the intent behind the crime remains unknown, Sklar said it's troublesome either way.
"... if it is kids, if it looks like it was not directed at any particular group or individuals, then I think we need to be aware of that to make sure that we as a community take a deep breath and address the level of, for lack of a better word, the level of crime that it is," he said. "I mean we don't want every single vandalism treated like a bias crime because we want bias crime laws to be utilized in the most extreme cases."
Indiana is one of five states that does not have a hate crime law, but that could soon change. After a synagogue in Carmel was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, Gov. Eric Holcomb called for Indiana to finally adopt hate crime legislation.
Sklar said the Carmel incident and the conversation that took place after likely has increased awareness around the state.
"So I think there's always a question about whether we are experiencing more (biased crimes) or seeing more, and my educated guess over the last couple of weeks is we're seeing more of these things reported than we were before," he said.