January 17, 2011 (Rancho Penasquitos) – Vandals spray-painted swastikas and “666” (numbers symbolizing the devil) on at least 14 vehicles early this morning, also defacing property at Hilltop Community Park, Black Mountain Middle School, and Sunset Hills Elementary School. A witness reports seeing two white teens spray painting in the area around 1 a.m., the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Another source indicates they were driving a green car.
“It’s disturbing and shameful,” said Kevin Keenan, San Diego director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Keenan noted that swastikas are symbols with deep meaning for Jews, gays, people with disabilities, and other groups sent to death camps by the Nazis. “It may be significant that it took place on Martin Luther King Day,” he added. “It certainly makes it even more poignant and shameful.”
Despite the use of imagery customarily used to intimidate, however, Officer J. Jacobsen with San Diego Police said that there is no indication at this time that these were hate crimes.
Hate crimes must be motivated by a desire to cause intimidation. To prosecute hate crimes, prosecutors must show that victims were targeted due to reasons such as race, religion, sex, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. “Hate crimes are defined as the victim, not the act,” SDPD Lt. Andra Brown has stated.
Thus far, victims appear to have been randomly chosen, authorities have said.
Sergeant David Jennings told East County Magazine that the number of vandalized properties and vehicles may yet increase as more people discover damage. “There are victims that don’t even know that they’re victims yet,” he said.
Thus far, damaged vehicles were parked on Oveida Street, Adobe Bluffs Drive, Gainsborough Avenue, Allenbrook Way and Barrymore Street, according to the Union-Tribune.