A 12-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in connection with anti-Semitic graffiti found scribbled in chalk throughout a school playground in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Queens, New York.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told TIME the boy was charged with aggravated harassment. He was processed as a juvenile and released to his family, police confirmed Wednesday.
Police say the anti-Semitic graffiti, including the phrase “Hail Hitler” and numerous swastikas, was found on Feb. 22 across a playground at P.S. 139 in Rego Park.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea credited the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force for their work investigating the incident. “No matter the face of hate, the NYPD, partnered with the community, has ZERO tolerance,” he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for an investigation into the graffiti on Friday after a similar incident occurred about a week later at a playground in Brooklyn.
“Let me be very clear: in New York, we have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and hate of any kind, and no student should ever feel discriminated against or threatened because of their religion or ethnic origin,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York is a beacon of tolerance and hope, and we will do everything in our power to make sure the perpetrators of these vile acts are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to The New York Times, anti-Semitic crimes have been on the rise in New York City, with an increase of more than 70% over the same period last year.
Queens’ Rego Park neighborhood has one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in New York City.
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