Police are investigating after a Fieldston resident discovered four swastikas and an anti-Semitic phrase drawn in chalk next to the playground equipment at McLaughlin Playground.
David Pulver discovered the images, along with a chalk-inscription reading “Kill Jews,” after bringing his two grandchildren to the playground on Greystone Avenue near West 238th Street around 7 a.m. on July 11.
“My most immediate thought was, thank God my two grandchildren are not yet able to read, and had no idea what the symbols meant,” said Mr. Pulver, 63.
He reported the incident to the 50th Precinct. Officer Mindy Ramos said the markings, which would be considered aggravated harassment, are the first of their kind since a similar incident was reported to the precinct in May.
She also brought up a case that occurred in April, when black Riverdale resident Menuhin Hart discovered racially-charged vandalism on his truck.
Mr. Pulver, a member of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR), said the July 11 incident reminded him of an incident that occurred last December, when two swastikas were carved into artificial turf on the baseball field at Seton Park.
“Episodes like this are not just bad for the Jews, they’re bad for anyone,” said Mr. Pulver, who added that HIR works to create a multidenominational, multicultural responses to these kinds of incidences.
By Friday afternoon, police had removed the images from the playground. A local nanny, Juline Taylor, who was at the site with the two-and-a-half year old girl she cares for, said she was surprised to hear the swastikas had been drawn.
“I’ve never seen or heard anything like that before, and I’m here practically every afternoon,” she said.
Also at the playground Friday afternoon was Thelma, a 94-year-old Jewish Riverdale resident who sits on a bench there every day.
“There’s been hate for thousands of years — it’s never going to stop. You just have to ignore them,” she said, calling the actions of the person — or persons — who drew the swastikas “ignorant.”