A Maryland family said they woke up Saturday to find an anti-Semitic note on their car, just days after they hung a Black Lives Matter flag on their window.
Jewish couple Sonya and Mikey Franklin also told BuzzFeed News their Rockville home was vandalized with toilet paper thrown around their trees and eggs thrown at the side of their car.
“The purpose was to scare us, and they succeeded because we’re scared,” Mikey Franklin told BuzzFeed News. “Not that people will harm us, but that there are people that would do this in our very diverse area.”
The handwritten note, scribbled in a block-type handwriting, also included a yellow star of David and the word “Jude” (German for Jew), similar to the badges Nazis made Jewish people wear during the Holocaust.
The Rockville Police Department has received an incident report on the letter, spokesman Sgt. Christopher Peck told BuzzFeed News on Sunday.
In an email, Lt. Brain Paul said the incident is being classified as a “possible hate crime and will be investigated as such.”
Initially, Sgt. Peck said that the note Franklin allegedly received was not anti-Semitic.
“There’s nothing in there that is referenced that is anti-Semitic,” Peck said, adding that he was unsure what the word “Jude” meant.
Peck said he believes the note was written by kids because of the block lettering, the type of language, and the spelling of the word “mayhem” as two different words. (Although in the photo Franklin posted of the alleged letter, there appears to an attempt to hyphenate the word mayhem over two lines).
“We have no clue who did this,” Peck said. “There’s no video cameras or surveillance video and no one has come forward as a witness.”
The department later described the letter as containing “references of and symbols of anti-Semitic hatred.”
“The Rockville City Police Department takes this, and all, possible hate crimes seriously,” the department said on its Facebook page. The department will have no further comment at this time, due to the ongoing investigation.”
Franklin said the note and the vandalism came just two days after they took down a Black Lives Matter flag they hung from their kitchen window, which faces the public street.
Their family car also has Black Lives Matter bumper stickers, but Franklin said the flag seemed to have caught more attention in the neighborhood.
Earlier this week, they received a note from the property management company of their unit and were told it was against rules to hang any “personal item” in the front of the building.
Franklin said they took the flag down Thursday night.
He doesn’t believe anyone from their building or property management had anything to do with the alleged vandalism, but noted it occurred just days after they hung the flag.
It also worried him that, whoever left the racist note, somehow knew their background.
“It had to be someone who knew that we were Jewish,” Franklin said.
Sonya Franklin said she was dismissive of the note at first, assuming it may have been left behind by kids. But the alleged incident struck a nerve with her, given she comes from a family that fled the Soviet Union as religious refugees.
“It’s just upsetting because this is something we lived through,” she said. “Somehow, putting a yellow star on it, it’s made it more personal.”
Mikey Franklin said that although his family don’t fear for their safety they now have questions in their mind about the community they’ve lived in for more than four years.
He said he believes the presidential election has emboldened people with anti-Semitic or xenophobic views.
“It’s empowered people that kept their racist thoughts to themselves, and are instead leaving racist notes on people’s cars,” Franklin said.
“If this is happening in Montgomery County, it’s happening everywhere,” he said.
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