Seattle police are investigating after a Capitol Hill synagogue was vandalized with anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying graffiti.
In a message posted on the Facebook of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Rabbi Daniel Weiner said the graffiti was spray-painted on the facade of the temple's Old Sanctuary and discovered Friday morning.
This is the synagogue where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in 1961.
A package left at the front door that drew bomb squad attention turned out to be a book donation. Weiner says the synagogue is taking every precaution for safety.
"But by the same token, we strongly encourage people to not alter any of their plans," he told KUOW. "To come and be a part of our community to celebrate the Sabbath, to celebrate upcoming holidays. And to deny those who would want to prevent us from living our lives the way we want to live, to prevent them from being successful."
The Seattle Police Department's bias crimes unit is investigating the incident.
It came the same day that U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell was meeting with Jewish and other faith leaders to talk about recent hate crimes in this region and elsewhere.
"I'm anxious about events unfolding even as we sit in this room," Cantwell told the leaders Friday afternoon at the Jewish Federation of Seattle.
On Feb. 27, a bomb threat forced the evacuation of a Jewish community center on Mercer Island. That was part of several waves of threats aimed at Jewish institutions across the country.
Nancy Greer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Seattle, asked Cantwell to support a boost in federal money for nonprofits like hers to improve security.
Pastor Anthony Steele of Allen AME Church in Tacoma said other AME churches received threats after a 2015 Charleston church shooting that left nine people dead. Volunteer Black Panthers guard his church now, he said.
There have also been recent anti-Muslim incidents in the Seattle area. Annelah Afzali runs the American Muslim Empowerment Network. She said acts against various faith communities can be related.
“As soon as you allow hatred and bigotry to be acceptable against one community, then it will be affecting others,” she said.
Cantwell announced support for a presidential task force to address hate crimes. Her office says she plans to send a letter to the White House requesting that it be set up soon.