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Palm Springs Police respond to vandalism incident

UPDATE 10/22/19: The Palm Springs Police Department issued a statement in regard to an error made in an interview with News Channel 3 on Monday.

On Saturday, 10/19/2019, the Palm Springs Police Department started an investigation into a hate crime allegation that occurred at 1021 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Investigators learned that an unknown suspect drew a swastika symbol on a sign in front of the business. The owner of the building, who is Jewish, discovered the swastika and notified PSPD.

On October 21, 2019, our Media Team provided a statement to KESQ Channel 3 that this allegation was a hate incident and not a hate crime. The information from our media team was inaccurate and we are actively investigating this allegation as a hate crime.

PSPD officers searched the area for surveillance cameras but no surveillance footage has been located at this time that can help with the investigation. PSPD investigators are attempting to identify the suspect in this case and do not have any additional leads.

In California under penal code 422.55, any person who harms, threatens or harasses someone because of their:

Disability,
Gender,
Nationality,
Race or Ethnicity,
Religion, or
Sexual orientation

can be charged with a hate crime.

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INITIAL REPORT

The swastika, which police say was drawn with a crayon, was reported late Saturday morning, by Palm Springs attorney Robert Weinstein, who noticed the symbol on a sign outside his office in the 1000 block of South Indian Canyon.

The swastika was removed a short time later.

“The first thing that I think about is the people that have to deal with it. Mr. Weinstein has to see that, and that is not something that anyone should have to experience,” said Palm Springs Police Sergeant Mike Casavan.

Robert Weinstein’s office was closed Monday, which was a Jewish holiday, and he did not return our calls seeking comment on the case.

Sergeant Casavan tells News Channel 3 the case is not considered a crime, because property was not damaged when the symbol was drawn.

Instead, he called it a “hate incident”.

“Whether there was something behind it or not, or just someone being foolish, it doesn’t matter. It still hurts people’s feelings,” said the sergeant.

Casavan says hate incidents like this happening in Palm Springs are relatively rare.

He says about two to three are reported each year.

Swastikas were found spray-painted on a wall in Cathedral City last February.

At the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage, Education Director Thalia Lizemer Hawley would not comment on-camera about the Palm Springs incident.

She commented off-camera.

“It saddens me to see something like this happening in a place which is welcoming,” said Lizemer Hawley.

“For the most part our city is very open, and there is a lot of tolerance for different cultures, and we just don’t see that all that often,” said Casavan.

What appears to be a surveillance camera is mounted outside the office building where the swastika was drawn.

But, Casavan says they’re not yet aware of video that might show who did it.

Casavan says the department does not have any leads in the case and is depending on any witnesses who may have useful information to contact the department.

KESQ

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