WATERVILLE — Police are investigating the spray-painting of a swastika on a large rock at Quarry Road Recreation Center over the weekend that has drawn attention from hundreds of people on Facebook and prompted the scheduling of an interfaith service of healing this Friday evening.

The incident, reported to police Saturday, also led City Manager Michael Roy and Mayor Nick Isgro to post a message online saying Waterville will not stand for such activity.

“In situations like this the city of Waterville stands firmly united against any form of hate and intolerance,” the post says. “From the arrival of the Franco-Canadians and the Lebanese Maronite Catholics to our proud Jewish community and beyond, Waterville has always been, remains, and will always be an open and accepting community that will not be torn asunder by individuals or groups who believe otherwise.”

City parks and recreation workers removed the “offensive markings” Monday morning, according to the message.

Sometime over the weekend, the swastika was sprayed with red paint on the rock at the city-owned recreation area off Quarry Road. The symbol – which was used by Nazi Germany – was encircled with red paint and a star was painted to the left.

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of Beth Israel Congregation, a synagogue on Main Street, said Tuesday that she is inspired by the support and words of encouragement she and others have received from people in the wake of the incident.

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“It’s very upsetting, it’s very disturbing, it’s frightening,” Isaacs said of the spray-painted swastika. “However, at the same time, I’ve been so moved by the amount of support that the Jewish community has received from our neighbors and from our elected officials.”

Beth Israel Congregation plans to hold an interfaith service of healing at 6 p.m. Friday. “We welcome everybody to come inside for the service,” Isaacs said. “It’s a Shabbat (Sabbath) service, but it’s for people of all faiths.”

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said the painting of the swastika does not yet rise to the level of a hate crime, but it is very concerning and he understands people’s anger and outrage over it.

“We are still investigating it,” Massey said Tuesday. “There really is, at this point, no crime.”

But he said police are trying to determine who did it.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. Friday, a woman also called police about a swastika having been drawn, with lipstick, on the windshield of a car parked at an apartment building on Quarry Road.

“It was an isolated incident, and there were no messages or threatening symbols or words,” Massey said. “We’re not sure if it’s related, but we’re certainly looking at that because it’s the same general area.”

Massey said Tuesday that the rock painted with a swastika is out of the way in the recreation area and not visible to the majority of the public. As in the case of the swastika drawn with lipstick on the car windshield, it was not accompanied by any specific messages or threatening messages, according to Massey.

 

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