Authorities in Idaho are investigating after what’s believed to be the only memorial in the U.S. dedicated to Holocaust victim Anne Frank was desecrated with Nazi propaganda earlier this week.
Police discovered the vandalized Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho early Tuesday morning, tagged with nine swastika stickers that included the words, “we are everywhere.” Authorities believe the crime happened sometime between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning by an unknown suspect, or suspects.
“This explicit act of white supremacy serves as a reminder of the stark and disturbing pervasiveness of racism, bigotry and hatred that continues to plague society and which this community-driven fundraising campaign aims to turn on its head,” said the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which maintains the memorial, in a Friday statement.
The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights opened the memorial in 2002 as an educational park in Boise’s downtown. It features a life-sized, bronze statue of Anne Frank shown holding her diary and peering out of the secret annex in which she and her family spent 761 days hiding from Nazi rule. The memorial is the only one of Anne Frank in the U.S., the center said.
The center said some of the stickers were found affixed to Anne Frank’s diary, while others were left throughout the park. The stickers were immediately removed, according to authorities, and investigators have begun searching surveillance video as a part of an ongoing investigation.
“What makes this event actually so sad,” Dan Prinzing, the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, told the Associated Press, “was the blatancy where they were placed, how they were placed and the message they were proclaiming.”
“I want to make this incredibly clear: The vandalism at the Anne Frank Memorial is reprehensible,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said during an online news conference with community leaders Thursday. “It is an affront to all that we are, the values we hold dear, to the memories of so many people in this community and this country who fought against that very topic, and of course, and of course to the people in this community who it targets."
The Boise community has rallied behind the Wassmuth Center, with visitors leaving flowers and signs of encouragement on the memorial. The center announced that amid the outpouring of support it will be launching a fundraising campaign in order to buy a new security system for the memorial.
“We take all instances of hate and hate messaging seriously. Recently we were part of an investigation with our federal partners to arrest several individuals with ties to Neo-Nazi ideology,” the Boise Police Department said in a statement. “We are committed to ferreting out individuals who would sow hate in our community and seek to cause harm. We are strongly committed to solving this incident at the Anne Frank Memorial."
The center also said the site is one of the few places in the world where the entire text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is on permanent display to the public.