Written by Will Hoadley-Brill
A swastika, a dollar sign, and the word “monkey” were drawn on the front of Pasadena Community Job Center at 500 N. Lake Avenue in Pasadena sometime between the evening of August 11 and the morning of August 12. Pasadena police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. After calls to address the antisemitic, white supremacist vandalism, Pasadena Council member Victor Gordo and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek have publicly condemned the presence of hate in the Pasadena community.
The Job Center is part of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network which works for migrant workers’ rights and immigration justice.
This is one instance of a national increase in hate motivated crime since the campaign and election of Donald Trump in 2016. According to FBI statistics, there was a significant increase of hate crimes in the US from 2016 to 2018. In 2016, there were 6,121 reported hate crimes and in 2018 there were 7,175, with Black Americans and Jewish Americans being the two top groups targeted.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked hate crimes and symbols for decades and has cited many instances in which the swastika has been used as a symbol for white supremacists beyond antisemitic attacks. The drawing of a swastika and a dollar sign on the Pasadena Community Job Center is an intentional hate-filled action with antisemitic messaging. What must be recognized, however, is that the building upon which this vandalization took place is a center for resources that serves the Pasadena immigrant population as one of its target demographics. The Pasadena Community Job Center seeks to welcome immigrants to our community and recognizes the value they add.
The growth in national hate crimes, some of which employ the swastika against non-Jewish marginalized populations, highlights the interconnectedness of forms of bigotry in the United States. White supremacists target all those who differ from their image of what America should be: Black Americans, Asian Americans, Indigenous Americans, Latinx Americans, all Americans of color, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBTQIA+ Americans, immigrants, undocumented Americans, and any that they classify as other. Xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and transphobia are overlapping and connected ideologies of hate.
This means that our fight against hate, bigotry, and white supremacy must be one that strives to lift all. When we see an act of hatred that targets a specific group, we must all come together as a community to call out the hate, call upon our leaders to address the hate, and work together as a community to create a culture that welcomes all and rejects the harmful practice of othering.
Hatred has historically been a contagious cultural disease. The proximity of this particular crime should put South Pasadena on high alert. We can not tolerate this kind of antisemitic, anti-immigrant, white supremacist behavior in our community in any form.
To learn more about the United States’ history of white supremacy and its contemporary iterations, please visit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.