On June 6th 2019, near the corner of North Main and Castle Streets in Downtown Geneva, anti-semitic and white supremacist graffiti was discovered on a privately-owned shed bordering a public parking lot. Just over a month later and less than a block away, a second act of racist graffiti was found at Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ on Milton Street.
Although a photo of the first incident was published in the Finger Lakes Times, no public updates to the investigation have been provided by the Geneva Police Department. The incident at Mt. Calvary was first reported on the Facebook page of the Ontario County Justice Coalition on July 18th, along with a statement reading, “The case needs to be reopened. The investigation needs to continue and a formal tip line provided.” At this time, it is unclear whether the second incident also occurred on June 6th or at a later date.
In New York State, vandalizing of a church with racist graffiti should be investigated as a hate crime.
Geneva Believer emailed requests for comment to the Geneva Police Department and OCJC on Friday July 19th, but no response has yet been received.
North Main Street Incident
On the morning of Thursday, June 6 2019, a swastika and the phrase “white power” were discovered spray-painted on a privately-owned shed located in the back yard of a home on North Main Street, adjacent to a public parking lot on Elm Street.
Geneva Police were called to the scene, took reports, and within a few hours, the property owners had done their best to remove the graffiti.
Coincidentally, the graffiti would have been visible from the parking lot of the Finger Lakes Times’ offices on Genesee Street. However, the Finger Lakes Times would not report on the incident until nearly a week later, on June 12th, in a brief article that is only available to paid subscribers.
A reader-submitted photo accompanied the one-paragraph article on page A-5. The article stated that the GPD had initiated an investigation into the incident, but had no new information to report.
Inexplicably, the article does not include the standard request from the Geneva Police Department asking for tips from readers who may have information related to the crime that had occurred only six days prior.
It’s also notable that the Finger Lakes Times referred to the term “white power” as a “racially charged saying,” rather than a “racist saying.” “White power” assumes the superiority of the white race over other races, which is literally the dictionary definition of racism.
Mt. Calvary Incident
As reported on the Facebook page of the Ontario County Justice Coalition on Thursday July 18th, the outside wall on the west side of the Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ at 41 Milton Street had also been struck by racist graffiti, including at least one swastika . Two photographs (below) were included with the post. The graffiti had been cleaned up prior to the photos being taken.
Below is an enhancement, by Geneva Believer, of the above photo.
At this writing, it is unknown when the church was vandalized.
The post from OCJC stated that the “case needs to be reopened” and “the investigation needs to continue.”
Spray-painting a swastika on a black church in New York State falls under the definition of a hate crime, and should be investigated as such.
A Community Problem
Our city “leaders” have barely acknowledged these two ugly incidents that occurred on the edge of our cherished downtown in the heart of tourist season.
- The Community Compact Committee has been silent.
- The City of Geneva has been silent.
- The Geneva Police Department, when asked, acknowledged that an investigation was initiated in June but have not solicited tips from the public or issued any updates related to the incidents.
It is unfathomable that a city government that promotes its “diversity” at every opportunity would not issue an immediate, unequivocal statement declaring that we do not tolerate hate in our city.
It is embarrassing that our police department, under years of scrutiny for allegations of racial bias, would fail to immediately ask the public for help in finding the person or persons responsible for the racist graffiti found at two separate locations, including a church.
It’s disturbing that our hometown newspaper would report on a racist graffiti incident literally in their own backyard by publishing a single, one-paragraph “article” nearly a week later that only their paid subscribers would see, and without any follow-up stories.
Have our so-called “leaders” chosen to remain silent or downplay these hateful incidents in order to protect downtown tourist dollars, to protect their own reputations, or both?
Taking every opportunity to celebrate and boast about our city’s “diversity” while simultaneously ignoring or downplaying the bigotry and racism that exists in Geneva is not what we should expect from our “leaders.”
If our “leaders” won’t stand against bigotry and hatred, we, the people of Geneva, must.
- We must demand that the Geneva Police Department conduct a thorough investigation into these shameful and hateful crimes, find the person or persons responsible, and bring them to justice.
- We must stand behind our neighbors at Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ and let them know we don’t accept hatred and racism in our community.
- We must stand with our friends in the Jewish community and let them know we do not tolerate anti-semitism in our community.
- We must stand together as a community, from every faith, every background, and every neighborhood, against hate and bigotry in all forms.
If you have any information related to this story, please contact Geneva Believer.
You can also let our “leaders” know that you need them to stand against bigotry and racism.
Just over 24 hours after this story was published, the Geneva Police Department issued a press release announcing that the racist graffiti incidents were under investigation and could be prosecuted as hate crimes.