April 20, 2012
Vandals painted swastikas on walls, signs and doors of a Colorado Springs Jewish temple early Friday in an apparent hate crime in honor of Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
Caretaker Stan Peters, who lives next door to Temple Beit Torah, said the vandals must have been in a hurry, painting the iconic Nazi symbols and the words “Happy 4:20” on two sides of the building that sits at East Madison and Royer streets, north of downtown Colorado Springs.
The “4:20” markings are in reference to April 20, 1889, the day that Hitler, the Nazi German leader who drove the Holocaust, was born.
Judith Barthel, a board member at Temple Beit Torah, called the vandalism “horrifying” and “sad.” She said that people in the neighborhood, the mailman and those at Temple Shalom, also in Colorado Springs, have showed their support.
The men’s club at Temple Shalom called after hearing about the news and offered to help clean the building, which Peters had already washed and painted.
Peters said a neighbor across Royer Street spotted the vandalism and told temple members.
“There are still quite a few people who have a lot of hatred for anyone who is different from them,” Peters said noting that he and his wife had been outside after 10 p.m. Thursday setting up a garage sale at their home.
“It had to happen late,” he said.
Colorado Springs police were called to the temple just after 7 a.m. Friday and said they didn't have suspects and were still investigating Friday afternoon.
Peters said the police told him the crime is being called criminal mischief.
April 20 has a dark history in Colorado. It’s the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which was timed to coincide with the birthday of the Nazi dictator.
“It’s especially poignant today,” Barthel said.
Contact Matt Steiner at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @gazsteiner.