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The historic coral rock house at 900 Collins Ave. in South Beach was defaced with swastikas.EXPAND
The historic coral rock house at 900 Collins Ave. in South Beach was defaced with swastikas.
Photo by Mitch Novick

South Beach's Historic Coral Rock House Defaced With Swastikas

For more than three decades, the coral rock house at 900 Collins Ave. was a medical office run by Edward Roth, one of the first Jewish doctors in Miami Beach. Over the weekend, drawings of swastikas were found on the home.

The vandalism was discovered by Mitch Novick, a historic preservationist who helped save the house from demolition in the mid-2000s. Novick says he has not yet filed a police report; it's unclear whether the swastikas were drawn by someone who knew about Roth or the home's history.

"It could have been there for months," Novick says. "It's been empty so long I don't know when that swastika was inscribed into the fascia of the window."

The graffiti is just the latest anti-Semitic incident in the Miami area this year.

In July, a man who allegedly stated he wanted to "kill all Jews" was arrested after he tried to blow up a Miami Beach condo building where many residents are Jewish. Last month, someone spray-painted a swastika onto a South Beach synagogue. And just a few days ago, a video surfaced of a Miami police sergeant and union vice president throwing away a Tanakh — holy Jewish texts that include the Torah — onto a truck bed while yelling, "Fuck this."

The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking anti-Semitic vandalism for almost 40 years. In the week after the election of President Donald Trump, ADL noted a rash of racist graffiti and vandalism sweeping the country. Included were swastikas discovered in Indiana, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and California.

Last year, the group recorded nearly 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents, a 57 percent increase over 2016.

“Hate crimes are meant to target entire communities with a goal of terrorizing anyone who believes in an inclusive society," ADL's Florida director, Sheri Zvi, writes in a statement to New Times. "The anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, and bigoted incidents we have seen must remind us that an attack against any of us is an attack against all of us.”

ProPublica's Documenting Hate, a journalism project, has teamed up with New Times and other newsrooms across the country to report on racist vandalism, much of which goes unreported or isn't taken seriously by law enforcement. Last year, a woman named Becca Tabasky told New Times that Dania Beach police refused to investigate after she reported a swastika spray-painted on a utility pole.

"The point was being lost that this is not just graffiti; it's a symbol of hatred," Tabasky, who is Jewish, said at the time. "Some people will see it and see genocide, see dead family members. Jewish community centers are getting bomb threats, and cemeteries are getting all bashed up. That's what some people see when they see this swastika that you're calling graffiti."

Novick, who discovered the swastikas on the coral rock house, says he plans to notify the property owner about the vandalism.

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