Talk about a missed opportunity.
On Wednesday, Phoenix city leaders gathered for a press conference at City Hall to announce that February is "Graffiti Free Awareness Month," and to pat themselves on the backs for all the great work Phoenix does in combating graffiti.
The media event included City Council members Kate Gallego and Michael Nowakowski. A Phoenix Police Department sergeant and the head of Phoenix's neighborhood services division were present. Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo stopped by to lend his support.
Mayor Stanton was a no-show, but he sent a proclamation, encouraging each resident during the month of February "to do their part to keep our neighborhoods free of blight by reporting graffiti and helping to clean our community."
Interestingly, no one present mentioned that city property had been hit just a couple of days prior with a vicious bit of neo-Nazi vandalism.
Perhaps some of them were unaware of the crime. Or they may have been keeping mum out of deference to an ongoing investigation.
During the weekend, vandals targeted a stone marker on Washington Street, on the north side of Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza, for the Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building.
The graffiti featured a black outline of a circle, spray-painted on one side of the obelisk. Inside the circle: a crude swastika and an inverted "Y."
The inverted Y was reminiscent of the symbol used by the now-defunct neo-Nazi National Alliance as part of its logo, the so-called "life rune," though not a precise match.
(The National Alliance symbol resembles the stick figure inside a classic peace symbol, but turned upside down, minus the circle.)
A PPD spokesman would only say that what I described to him was under investigation, and that it was his understanding there was other graffiti around City Hall.
Apparently, the graffiti appeared Sunday morning, but was quickly buffed out.
The choice of a marker bearing the name of Calvin C. Goode may not be coincidence.
Goode, 88, is an iconic African-American citizen of Phoenix, who served 22 years as a City Councilman, and was instrumental in having the city first observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
So why is the PPD staying relatively quiet on this incident?
Perhaps its detectives are hoping the perpetrator(s) will boast about it on social media.
Still, I wish the cops would release the photos of the graffiti, which they no doubt have. As was addressed in the press conference, all graffiti in Phoenix is photographed before it is buffed out by city workers and volunteers.
There has been a noticeable uptick in far right-wing, extremist activity in the Valley, of late.
ASU's State Press recently reported on anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant fliers distributed on ASU's Tempe campus, by member(s) of a group calling itself the National Youth Front, an offshoot of the white supremacist American Freedom Party.
AFP was formerly known as American Third Position, which attempted (in vain) to sell a cleaned-up, media-savvy form of neo-Nazism to the public.
The National Youth Front also has targeted assistant ASU professor Lee Bebout over a controversial class he's teaching called "U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness."
The NYF has denounced Bebout on its website, and has taken credit for distributing fliers featuring his likeness.
Lastly, in early January, a Serbian Orthodox church in Phoenix was vandalized with graffiti using the symbols and slogans of Croatian fascists, the Ustashi, which persecuted the Serbs during WWII.
I'm not claiming that these incidents are connected or involve the same individuals, simply that an increase in such activity is worth noting.
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Sometimes this filth comes in waves.
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