The summer's spate of hate crimes continues to spawn more of the same, with Connecticut police as well as the FBI investigating a pair of puzzling incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism involving medical waste and references to the white supremacist killer who struck in Los Angeles earlier this month.
On two separate days this week, containers of bloody syringes, vials and bandages were dumped at synagogues in Stamford and Norwalk, affluent bedroom communities for Manhattan commuters. In each case, Nazi swastikas were scrawled on the waste containers. And Buford O. Furrow, the white supremacist charged in the anti-Semitic attack on a Los Angeles day-care center and the killing of a postal employee, was invoked at each crime scene. His picture was left at the Stamford synagogue Tuesday, and a note at the Norwalk scene Thursday made reference to him, police say.
"There's an implied threat," said Robert Leikind, Connecticut regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. "Whoever did this seemed to be bent on at least inflaming passions."
Because several other cases of medical-waste vandalism have occurred in Norwalk without any anti-Semitic angle, Marvin Rosenbaum, president of the 300-member Congregation Beth El, suggested another motive could be at work in the temple cases. Nonetheless, he said that the presence of the symbols of hate "puts everybody on heightened alert."
Rights groups and police have noted numerous copycat or otherwise related hate incidents since Furrow's confessed Aug. 10 gun attack in the Granada Hills area of Los Angeles, in which he shot three children, a teenager and an adult, hijacked a getaway car and then fatally shot a Filipino American postal worker because, according to authorities, he was a minority and a federal employee. A neo-Nazi who had hoped to leave more dead victims from his rampage, Furrow told police when he turned himself in that the shootings were "a wake-up call to America to kill all Jews."
Since then, many Jewish communities have been on edge and Jewish centers and temples across the nation have beefed up security.
But the Los Angeles attack, as well as these latest cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in Connecticut, is part of a far broader pattern of hate-based crimes that has emerged in recent months. Targeting people for their religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, these crimes are perpetrated by unstable youth or by adherents of one of a plethora of racist ideologies that proliferate on society's fringes and whose views are easily seen on the Internet.
In April, two unpopular students angry at athletes and minorities shot to death a dozen of their classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School outside Denver and then killed themselves. When the school reopened last week, swastikas were scrawled on the walls of two of the school's bathrooms and near an outside entrance.
In June, three synagogues were torched on one night in Sacramento, and the men police say are suspects in those arsons were later charged in the slayings of a gay couple in Redding, Calif.
Over the July 4 weekend, a white racist gunman targeted ethnic and religious minorities in Illinois and Indiana, leaving two dead and nine injured. The man killed himself, as well.
The Aug. 10 attack in Los Angeles was followed a few days later by a synagogue arson in Hauppauge, N.Y.
Police in Connecticut believe the Stamford and Norwalk cases are linked and, with the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office, are investigating jointly. The medical waste from the incidents is being analyzed to determine its origin and its link to four other waste-dumping incidents that have occurred at two libraries, an elementary school and a shopping center in Stamford since December, said Capt. Frank Lagan, who is leading the Stamford police investigation.
CAPTION: Anti-Semitism (This chart was not available)