ITEM PHOTO BY JIM WILSON
Crowd gathers at a rally held at Riverhead Beach to protest a rash of anti-Semitic graffiti discovered on a wall off Ocean Ave.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
MARBLEHEAD — Hundreds rallied at Riverhead Beach Monday morning to protest the hateful language discovered on the seawall over the weekend.
Anti-Semitic and hateful writing including “KKK is here,” “end the jew,” “Make America Great Again,” “pizzagate,” “Seth Moulton is a pedophile,” and the Star of David with lines through it. It was discovered Friday evening by a kayaker on the harbor side of the causeway wall on Ocean Avenue.
The vandalism was only visible by boat, said Police Chief Robert Picariello, and it is unclear how long ago the property had been defaced. Police were assisted by the town’s harbormaster to view and document the writing.
Similarly offensive vandalism was found in a remote section of Seaside Park. Picariello said it is unclear whether the incidents are related. With assistance from Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger and the Marblehead Department of Public Works, all writing and offensive language was removed.
Rabbi David Meyer of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead said 25 years ago he was new to the town in the aftermath of desecration to the temple. He quickly realized that Marblehead is a community that has the capacity and desire to stand up for its values.
“I also made it my business to learn the town anthem,” Meyer said. “ I had never lived in a town that had an anthem before.”
He recited, “Marblehead forever! God bless the good old town. May she never shame her noble ancestry. She was first in revolution, first in 61. And from all dishonor we will keep her free.”
Meyer explained that the anthem declares that the town stands for freedom, equality, and the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and against prejudice, oppression, racism, and hatred.
“And so it’s possible to say that what Marblehead really stands for is responding,” he said. “We were first and we’re here today. Marblehead responds to the call. The vandalism that we protest here today may have shamed her noble ancestry, but by being here today we are assuring in the stirring words of our town anthem from all dishonor, we will keep her free. This we do today and this we will never stop doing.”
Local politicians, town officials, and members of anti-hate organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Task Force Against Discrimination all echoed the sentiment that the hundreds of people who protested the crime only proved that the vandal did not win.
“We do not know who inflicted this upon our community,” said Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead). “We also do not know why or how their hearts were filled with so much hate. In a way, I pity whoever wrote those vile words because clearly, they have so much hate inside their hearts that it must burn inside them.
“But, one thing is crystal clear — the perpetrators are cowards,” she said. “They did this under the cover of darkness. They took no credit for their words and had no purpose in mind except to spread hatred. They sought to harm the social fabric that keeps us all together. By the show of (turnout) today, they did not get away with it.
We all stand here today, hundreds strong on a holiday weekend, to show everyone that we reject hate. Whoever did this did not make us afraid. They did not speak for us.Their attacks bring us together rather than divide us.”
During the rally, anonymous donors provided a combined $3,000 to offer as a reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
“Someone is aware of how this happened,” said Picariello. “We’re hoping someone will come forward.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte