UPPER WEST SIDE — A swastika was found scrawled on the entrance to a West 86th Street church that shares space with a synagogue in an incident police are investigating as a hate crime, the NYPD said.
Someone scribbled the roughly 2-inch symbol with a black marker on the entrance walls of St. Paul and St. Andrew Church at 263 W. 86th St. on Wednesday sometime between noon and 5:45 p.m., police said.
Two pastors discovered the swastika as they were heading to an interfaith service at the Fourth Universalist Society at 160 Central Park West, according to the West Side Rag, which first reported the story.
Church staff reported the swastika to police the next morning at around 10:20 a.m., and police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, the NYPD said. No threats were made to the church.
The church’s senior pastor, Reverend K Karpen, said police asked that the house of worship not immediately scrub the swastika so authorities could investigate, but the symbol was removed on Friday.
“It was small but very disturbing,” Karpen said. “We have no idea of the motivation behind it, and hopefully this is not something that will be repeated here or anywhere else.”
The church has shared space with Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun for 26 years but has never experienced vandalism like this, the reverend said. Karpen added the church would continue speaking out against hate and said the recent incident could be a result of the “crazy times we’re living in.”
“We spend a lot of time working on relationships among people of different faiths and no faiths,” Karpen said. “We all belong in this city and this country, and we want to make sure our voice is very loud in saying that, because there are other voices we hear that are not saying the same thing.”
The church marks the latest target for such vandalism in the neighborhood.
Earlier this year, the Fourth Universalist Society had swastikas carved into its wooden doors on February 28. Only months before that, swastikas, “KKK” and “Nazi” were found written in marker on phone booths along Broadway between West 104th and 105th Streets, as well as on a green signal box at the corner of West 104th and Broadway.
As of August 20, there had been 104 anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city, a roughly 36 percent increase compared to the same time period last year, the NYPD said.