NEW YORK - The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a particularly profane act of anti-Semitic vandalism of a war memorial in a park in Queens.
Police officers responded to a 911 call on Wednesday afternoon that someone scrawled swastikas and slogans on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park. The officers took a statement from a witness and called in the Hate Crimes Task Force.
"The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst was constructed to honor the lives of military members lost during the war," the NYPD tweeted. "The desecration of this site with swastikas and other graffiti is beyond detestable, and is now being investigated by @NYPDHateCrimes."
New York City Councilman Robert Holden also went to the park to get a look at the vandalism. He posted photos on Twitter showing the vile symbols and words defacing the memorial. The graffiti included the words "baby killers," "fallen sons," and a reference to a sex act.
"I am deeply disgusted by this cowardly act of vandalism at the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Holden tweeted. "I offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the sick soul who did it."
The office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz posted a video showing Parks Department workers covering up the graffiti.
When Katz was the Queens borough president, her office funded the construction of the memorial, which opened in 2019.
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A spokesperson for the Parks Department confirmed that its staff "responded immediately" after learning of the vandalism to clean it up.
"There's no room for symbols of hatred or racial bias in our parks," spokesperson Charisse Hill said in an email to FOX 5 NY.
The Parks Department designed the memorial in consultation with the Vietnam Veterans of America Local Chapter 32, according to a press release. The semi-enclosed space is meant to provide a "contemplative space" to honor Queens residents who died during the Vietnam War.
When the memorial opened in 2019, this is how the Parks Department described the design:
"Two semi-circular granite walls flank the space. One bears the name of the memorial, the five crests of the military and the Vietnam Service Medal. On the inside of the wall, an etching of bamboo represents a common element of the Vietnam War. The second wall provides the history of the war including key events and dates, as well as the names of the fallen, which have been placed strategically to receive sun during the day. A section of the memorial pays tribute to the many soldiers who later died at home due to effects of the war. The granite walls, as well as the existing flagpole, will both be illuminated at night. Inside of the enclosure sits a radial bench, and in the center of the oval, a granite map of "Vietnam with key locations highlighted. The space is designed to host small memorial gatherings to remember the heroes it honors. Additionally, plantings have been added to soften the edge of the space."
The Parks Department asks anyone who sees graffiti or other vandalism in any park should call 311 to report it.