Minor Identified As UES Vandal Who Painted Swastikas In Gym

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A minor has been identified as the suspect in an incident of anti-Semitic vandalism at an Upper East Side gym, the gym’s director told members in an email Friday.

The executive director of the Asphalt Green athletic facility told members that the gym has turned over all “pertinent information” to the NYPD hate crimes unit regarding the vandalism of one of its locker rooms. The vandal painted swastikas on the walls and fixtures of family locker rooms in Asphalt Green’s AquaCenter in March.

As a response to the vandalism, Asphalt Green increased its security and plans to keep those measure in place going forward, the gym’s executive director Maggy Siegel said in an email to members.

“I wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to the many members who expressed their support for Asphalt Green during this challenging time. We are a strong, inclusive community and we will never be a place for hatred,” the email read.

Upper East Side officials and community leaders held a rally at the facility to denounce anti-Semitism in the weeks following the discovery of the hateful graffiti. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney linked the vandalism to a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States.

The spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes has also affected New York City. The city’s Jewish population has been disproportionately targeted as hate crimes occur more frequently in the city. Jews were the targets of more than half the 352 hate crimes reported in 2018 as of late December.

The city has seen a sustained rise in hate crimes over the last three years since around the time of President Donald Trump’s election. Crimes targeting Jewish, black, Asian and white people all increased last year, though anti-Muslim incidents fell sharply.

A rash of anti-Semitic incidents emerged in the months after the late October massacre of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A Prospect Heights synagogue was vandalized just days after the shooting, and two Hasidic people were attacked in Williamsburg one week in late November.