I-Team: Pedestrians still gawking at vandalized ACLU mural laced with anti-Semitic graffiti

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Like they do with most pieces of art, onlookers look at the totality of the work.

In this case, however, pedestrians are becoming more aware of the broad racism defacing a mural in downtown Raleigh, which includes a Confederate flag and a rant linking Jews to slavery, among other anti-Semitic references.

The mural, called "Dare to Dissent," was paid for and dedicated by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina last summer and is located at 210 South Salisbury Street between Hargett and Martin Streets.

The graffiti was first reported nearly a week ago.

"It's disturbing to me that people still feel this way in 2018," Julie Schmidt, who works nearby, laments to ABC11. "It's disturbing that they feel so strongly that they need to put it on a wall for other people to see."

Though the Confederate flag certainly stands out, Schmidt says she's both surprised and confused by the other graffiti, including messages in red markers reading "Slave markets were closed on Jewish holidays", "We proud Southern blacks know your Jew tricks," and "When blacks find out the real reason they are forced to hate the whites instead of Jews, Israel will disappear and all this with it."

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60% between 2016 and 2017 - the largest increase ever recorded by the ADL.

"A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community - from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. "These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society. In reflecting on this time and understanding it better with this new data, we feel even more committed to our century-old mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

In North Carolina specifically, an ADL audit of anti-Semitic events recorded increases in both harassment and vandalism. Among the incidents reported in 2017:

  • Asheville - Jewish high school student bullied. "I hope Hitler comes back," "You f*ing Jew," "Jew boy, I bet your dad is gay."
  • Ballantyne - Swastika painted on Jewish family's home
  • Boone - Jewish community center vandalized
  • Cary - Mannequins at Belk department store rearranged to give Nazi salute
  • Charlotte - Series of vandalism targeting Jewish family's home during the Jewish new year, including swastikas and obscenities painted on their front door.

Mike Meno, a spokesman for the ACLU, tells ABC11 the mural's artist, Dare Coulter, will soon repair the mural and cover all of the graffiti.

"When the mural is back, it'll just be exactly what it was before," Coulter told ABC11's partners at the News and Observer. "We have this element of resilience because racism isn't going to stop us... the message is still just as powerful as it was before, if not more."