Two suspects have been arrested by the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) for spray-painting swastikas outside of Binghamton High School early Tuesday morning.
The suspects, who have been identified as Binghamton residents William Ritchie, 22, and Andrew Carter, 17, were arrested on Wednesday.
A total of four spray-painted swastikas were found Tuesday morning in several locations near the high school, including the pavement on the corner of Main and Oak Streets, nearby sidewalks and on a window of the school.
The incident comes almost two weeks after an anti-Semitic gunman shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Local officials spoke out against anti-Semitism in various press releases following reports of the graffiti. County Executive Jason Garnar wrote in a statement that he was horrified by the incident.
“This is an attack on our entire community,” Garnar said in a statement. “This hatred has no place in Broome County and whoever did this is not welcome here.”
Binghamton Mayor Rich David also denounced the incident.
“Hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism have no place in our community,” David said in a statement. “This was a cowardly act.”
According to BPD’s press release, police identified Ritchie and Carter through an investigation that developed as video footage was discovered. Both suspects were arraigned on Wednesday in Binghamton City Court and remanded to Broome County Jail without bail. The suspects are charged with aggravated harassment in the first degree and criminal mischief in the second degree, designated as hate crimes.
Melissa Esposito, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, lives around the corner from Binghamton High School and said she was shocked to learn the graffiti was painted so close to a synagogue that served as a polling location for Election Day.
“When learning about voter intimidation in history classes, I never imagined it was something that would occur in 2018, especially so close to home,” Esposito said. “This incident made me feel even more aware of the legitimate obligation that all Americans have to make sure that this form of ostracism is never seen as acceptable, and to provide support and solidarity to those who are vulnerable to it.”
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