Metro Weekly

Gay Jewish Lawmaker’s Apartment Vandalized with Swastikas

Congressional candidate Joe Vogel says the lobby of his apartment building has been vandalized with swastikas three times in recent months.

Swastika vandalism – Photo: Joe Vogel.

A gay Jewish lawmaker running for Congress reported that the lobby of his apartment building was vandalized for the third time in recent months.

Maryland State Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery Co.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state’s 6th Congressional District race, shared a photo to the social media platform X, depicting swastikas drawn on the lobby door of his apartment building in Gaithersburg.

“Swastikas in my apartment building lobby again,” Vogel wrote. “The surge in antisemitism isn’t some distant phenomenon — it’s happening right here in our own community as well.”

He also quoted a post from September showing another picture of a swastika on the same door. 

Vogel told D.C.-based CBS affiliate WUSA9 that the most recent vandalism is the third time the Nazi symbol has been drawn onto or etched into the door frame.

“To see it in my own apartment building, in my own community, the place that I call home, is really unsettling,” Vogel told WUSA9.

It’s unclear if the vandalism was specifically targeted at Vogel. However, he told Baltimore-area ABC affiliate WMAR that there is a sizable Jewish community in Montgomery County and in Gaithersburg, noting that similar cases of anti-Semitic graffiti have occurred with disturbing frequency.

“That kind of hate. Those kinds of messages, that vandalism sends a really dark message to me and others in our community, but it won’t make us afraid,” Vogel said.

He added that he’s reported the incidents to police, who told him they are being investigated as hate crimes.

Vogel noted that the most recent vandalism comes at a time when synagogues, both locally and across the nation, have increased security due to potential threats stemming from the war between Israel and Hamas.

“I went to High Holiday services, and there are police officers stationed outside. I am glad they are keeping us safe, but I dream of a Maryland where we don’t have to have the police officers there because we are safe,” Vogel told WUSA9. 

According to the FBI’s most recent data on hate crimes, anti-Semitic crimes increased, on a national basis, from 2021 to 2022, with a 36% increase in destruction or damage of property, including vandalism, a 71% increase in intimidation crimes, a 21% increase in simple assaults, and a 27% increase in aggravated assaults.

The most recent report from the Anti-Defamation League indicates that in Maryland there were 109 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2022, marking a 98% increase from 2021. More than half of those occurred in Montgomery County.

The Anti-Defamation League’s hate tracker counts 68 anti-Semitic incidents thus far in Maryland, with a spike following the Hamas attack in Israel.

“The surge that we are seeing is real, and we have to look at that for what it is, and we have to take action,” Vogel said.

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