SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Scranton police are investigating how and why a hateful symbol ended-up spray painted outside an orthodox synagogue in the city’s Hill Section this weekend.
What started off as a story of “hate” quickly turned into a story of “healing.”
The Machzikeh Hadas Congregation has been located at the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Olive Street for decades.
The sidewalk outside the congregation is where someone, either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, spray painted a swastika-like symbol.
Two of the people that Eyewitness News interviewed for our story didn’t take the situation lightly and almost immediately came back to begin cleaning it up.
“It’s utterly disgusting!” Glen Johnson of Scranton said.
That was the reaction of almost everyone who saw the image spray painted on the sidewalk outside the Machzikeh Hadas congregation in Scranton.
“I was really shocked. I was upset. I was saddened most of all,” Glen Johnson said.
Glen and Maria Johnson have lived in this neighborhood for 20 years.
“I’ve never heard any wiff of trouble or difficulty before, no grumbling, no nothing,” Maria Johnson said.
When we showed the hateful symbol to James Douglas and Mary Langendoerfer, that is when this story started to take a turn.
“Children see this! How do you think they feel especially young Jewish children, knowing, growing up with what that means? Don’t you think that scares them? That is a threat!” Mary Langendoerfer of Scranton said.
Within just about an hour, the couple was back along with a friend, bleach, rags and scrubbing pads and they got to work.
After a lot of elbow grease, they got rid of most of the hateful symbol.
“If I don’t do it, the next man is just going to walk by it like I would have if I was younger and still in my little phases. I want to make a difference in my community!” James Douglas of Scranton said.
“We’re not in this world to teach hate. We’re here to teach love!” Frank Waldo of Scranton said.
As they scrubbed, members of the orthodox synagogue looked on.
They were offered ice pops as a gracious “thank you” but the vandalism cleaners say it wasn’t needed.
“I don’t want my 16-month-old son thinking that is okay!” Douglas said.
“It’s time to start worrying about not only yourself but others!” Waldo said.
Scranton police are now checking nearby surveillance cameras to see if they can help identify the vandal.
Police think the image was likely spray painted sometime between 9:00 PM on Saturday night and 8:00 AM on Sunday morning.
The group that cleaned-up the swastika-like image got supplies donated from the Green Frog, a nearby business on Mulberry Street in Scranton.