By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
LACONIA – Mayor Andrew Hosmer said that his community needs to be vigilant and will stand together and in support of its community after hateful, anti-Semitic and white supremacist graffiti was found scrawled on the wall at the Democratic Party’s Belknap County office on Union Avenue Wednesday morning.
The incident is the first of its kind in that location but not the first such marring of property in the city, this year, he noted.
It comes at a time when tensions are high around the country related to the Hamas attack on Israel Oct. 7 that killed upwards of 1,600 residents and has since been the focus of retaliation by Israel in Gaza with more than 10,000 there now dead.
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that there is an investigation underway.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have encountered this sort of behavior,” Hosmer said, Wednesday night after being briefed by Police Chief Matt Canfield and City Manager Kirk Beattie.
He noted there was a similar attack at the Laconia State School this fall.
So far, there has been no arrest in that incident, Hosmer said.
“It is unfortunately something we have had to talk about an awful lot,” Hosmer said noting there “seems to be an increased number of incidents across the country and our lovely community is not immune. We will remain vigilant. I fully intend to stand with the overwhelming majority of citizens here who view this, just as I do, that it is hate-based prejudice.
“There are probably very few of them and they strike, wherever, with all the same intent…to make us live in fear. But that is not the community we have here, and as is the case across the state. But we will stand together and with our police and…some time, someone will be brought to justice.”
Hosmer said, meanwhile, there is a need to educate about such “domestic terrorists.”
“We have seen in history where this leads,” he said. “We know what needs to happen next.”
The graffiti was found Wednesday morning, spray painted on the outside walls of the building on Union Avenue.
“They want people to live in fear,” Hosmer said, noting the city has a robust Jewish faith population with a temple serving many regional communities.
This attack follows recent posts on social media by the County Committee expressing solidarity with the city’s Jewish community and a remembrance of the anniversary of Kristallnacht which took place on November 10th.
The office was covered in swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs, as well as flyers advertising a white supremacist group.
NHDP Chair Ray Buckley said: “We are outraged and horrified by the recent discovery of anti-Semitic and white supremacist graffiti at our Belknap County office in Laconia. This blatant display of hate, marked by swastikas, are a direct threat to our Jewish community, and we demand immediate and thorough action from law enforcement agencies.
“The documented rise in these hate crimes here in New Hampshire is alarming and unacceptable. We must confront and challenge this vile ideology at every turn.
“We stand in unwavering solidarity with the Jewish community and all those targeted by these abhorrent acts. We will not be intimidated or deterred in our fight against bigotry. We call on every citizen to join us to ensure that New Hampshire remains a place where hate finds no harbor,” Buckley said.