Boise & Garden City

Boise’s Anne Frank Memorial defaced with racist, anti-Semitic messages

kjones@idahostatesman.com

Dan Prinzing said he wouldn’t repeat an anti-Semitic graffiti tag found Tuesday morning at Boise’s Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial because it was so offensive.

Another tag contained a racial slur and a message declaring black people aren’t human, said Prinzing, executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, whose office stands just feet from the memorial. That tag was written on a marble tablet, directly below the engraved first paragraph of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — a juxtaposition Prinzing believes was purposeful.

The anti-Semitic tag was written on a marble tablet, too, this one an engraved list of donors to the memorial.

“Now what does that do for us? It emboldens us,” Prinzing said. “It means our work is not done.”

A group touring the memorial discovered the vandalism shortly after noon Tuesday.

The Boise Police Department is preparing an investigation, spokeswoman Haley Williams said, but has no known suspects at this time. The memorial doesn’t have security cameras. Prinzing said that would fly in the face of the human rights message the memorial is meant to send.

"It emboldens us. It means our work is not done," the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights told the Idaho Statesman.

Both tags appeared to have been written with a permanent marker, which was bleeding into the stone, Prinzing said. Both tablets will have to be replaced, he said. In removing the tags, Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department used chemicals that also removed ink from the tablets’ engraved lettering. Those letters are too shallow to be re-inked, he said.

Replacing the tablets will cost $20,000, he said.

On Wednesday morning, the New York City-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect issued its own statement in response to the vandalism.

"This act of unfathomable evil demonstrates how we, as a society, have not yet reached the world of Anne Frank's dreams," said Steven Goldstein, executive director, in the release. "That's why our organization now focuses so strongly on contemporary injustice. It is on us, or Aleynu as we say in Hebrew, to take a stand for goodness in today's world just as Anne asked all of us to do in her diary. Never forget and never again, so help us God."

The memorial commemorates Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who was forced into hiding during the Holocaust and wrote a diary that would become world famous.

The memorial was dedicated in 2002.

This is the only incident of its type in the memorial’s history, Prinzing said. In 2007, a statue of Anne Frank fell over, but it’s not clear if that was caused by vandals or faulty construction.

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