PORT WASHINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- The Port Washington Police Department is investigating the vandalism of a local community sports building as a hate crime.
On Monday, those with the Port Washington Police Athletic League discovered 13 swastikas spray-painted throughout the building on Main Street.
Robert Elkins, the PAL's Executive Director, said they believe the perpetrators broke into the building on Sunday night by using a crowbar to dislodge the steel back door. The door is now unhinged from the structure of the building.
The swastikas are spray painted throughout the building from the walls to the bathroom to a beloved $20,000 ballpark tractor. The perpetrators also spray painted buckets of baseballs, a pitching machine and a field chalker. They also stole a tool box and punctured one of the tractor's tires.
Elkins said the vandalism which hurt the most though was the swastika painted over handmade cards from children who attended the PAL's summer programs on scholarships.
"That was the gut punch," Elkins said.
Elkins said about a week ago he painted over graffiti which had been painted on a metal pole protector on the PAL property. He said someone did that graffiti a few weeks ago.
"Ironically, the same paint that I used to paint over their graffiti is the can of spray paint that they found in the building," he said.
A GofundMe page to help the PAL has raised more than $18,500.
Elkins said they are planning on installing surveillance cameras on the building this weekend.
He said the PAL is also planning to hold a community event on November 1 to unify the Port Washington community and to let everyone know acts of hatred like these are not acceptable.
"Yes, we were a victim of a crime, but we're not a victim. We are survivors. We are going to go forward," Elkins said.
To help the PAL, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-port-washington-pal-antihate-response-fund
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