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Swastika Discovered at Portsmouth, NH Mall

Portsmouth_NH_Swastika.jpg

Update: Because the suspect used chalk for the drawings instead of paint, police will not be pressing charges because no permanent damage was done, they said; more here.

Police in Portsmouth are looking for whoever is responsible for drawing a swastika, a Star of David and a pentagram on the sidewalk outside The District restaurant on Congress Street.

Police Chief Robert Merner said the department believes someone picked up chalk from outside The Friendly Toast and used it for the graffiti, which was discovered Tuesday morning.

Merner said police are looking to speak to the person or people involved because they don’t know what their intentions were and whether they plan to do this again.

“It could be an idiot. It could be kids. It could be legitimate,” Merner said.

Merner said they do not believe this incident is connected to the other problems the city has had with graffiti this summer. In June, a bench at the African Burying Ground memorial, stone trim at a Provident Bank under construction, and a bathhouse on Four Tree Island were defaced.

Dozens of similar incidents have been reported to police.

Merner said since the perpetrator used chalk for the drawings instead of paint in this case, he cannot pursue vandalism or destruction of property charges because chalk is not permanent.

Merner said that doesn’t mean police don’t take the swastika situation seriously.

“If they do something like this, then they could do it at someone’s house. We take these things seriously,” Merner said. Merner said the owners of The Friendly Toast will not be leaving out chalk any longer.

The Department of Public Works cleaned up the area within five minutes of receiving a call from police on Tuesday. Police have not yet obtained any surveillance video from local businesses but are searching for images.

Anyone with information about this case are asked to call police at 603-427-1500.