NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Dozens of Sylvan Park residents came together Sunday afternoon to help erase hateful symbols spray-painted on the side of five homes in the Nashville neighborhood.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, at least two individuals spray-painted swastikas and other hate messages on homes along Westlawn Drive, Nebraska Avenue, Wyoming Avenue, Colorado Avenue, and Idaho Avenue during the early morning hours on Sunday, March 19.
“Literally, my stomach felt sick, I wanted to cry,” said Barbara Dab, a Sylvan Park resident and member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville. “My first thought was, ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to do about this?’”
On Sunday afternoon, community members showed up on Wyoming Avenue with power washers and spray-paint remover so they could get rid of the symbols on the side of one home. Meanwhile, children drew on poster boards in the front yard, writing out messages of inclusion.
Dab was one of the first people to arrive to lend a helping hand.
“It’s frightening, it’s outrageous, it’s horrifying, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Dab said.
The Wyoming Avenue residents whose home was vandalized said they planned to spend their Sunday afternoon watching March Madness, but instead, they felt called to publicly oppose hate speech in their neighborhood.
“We deeply grieve that anyone would attempt to intrude on this community, spewing toxic, hateful, polarizing messages,” Lizzie Harvey said. “At the end of the day, this is our community and we love each other so much, and that’s the message that we have today, one of love.”
According to Dab, the Jewish Federation has also found anti-Semitic flyers around Nashville as recently as two weeks ago.
“I’m calling on our leadership, I’m calling on everybody who will listen to stand up and say, ‘This is not okay, this is not going to happen in this state,’ and to denounce this kind of behavior,” Dab said.
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Officials said Police Chief John Drake ordered an increased patrol presence in the Sylvan Park neighborhood, as well as the areas around the city’s Jewish institutions, following the vandalism.
Authorities released doorbell video footage recorded just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday at one of the impacted homes. It shows what appears to be two male suspects with their faces covered, one of whom spray-painted the Ring camera when they arrived.
If you recognize those individuals, have any surveillance footage of the suspected vandals, or know anything about the incident, you’re asked to contact Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.