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A Jewish community center and a church in Virginia hit with swastika graffiti

A Jewish community center and a church within a mile of one another in Fairfax County were vandalized with swastikas and derogatory language, authorities said Tuesday.

A Fairfax County police spokeswoman said authorities received a call about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday for a report of graffiti at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in the 8900 block of Little River Turnpike, then a report about 8:50 a.m. of graffiti at Little River United Church of Christ in the 8400 block of Little River Turnpike. The crimes occurred between 1 and 4 a.m., spokeswoman Tawny Wright said. Police are reviewing surveillance footage in both cases.

Jeff Dannick, executive director of the JCC, said the graffiti was to be removed Tuesday. He added that it was “particularly painful” that the incident occurred during Passover.

“We retell that story generation to generation every year so that we never forget,” he said. “It’s a painful reminder of how ugly and dangerous the world can be, but also how we can overcome it.”

At the church, a swastika was painted on the Holy Week schedule, and a sign that read “Say NO to anti-Muslim bigotry” was crossed out. The words “Jesus knows no traitors” also were written on the sign.

Pastor David Lindsey said he wasn’t surprised the church was a target.

He said the “anti-Muslim bigotry” banner was the church’s latest attempt to reach out to its neighbors. Little River was founded in 1955 as a racially integrated church and started performing same-sex weddings 16 years ago, he said.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive, but every once in a while you’re going to get an incident,” he said of the banner.

The graffiti incidents come after threats against Jewish community centers around the country. As of last month, there were 166 threats made in 38 states as well as three Canadian provinces, according to the Anti-Defamation League.