'None of us are safe': Highland Park police search for vandal who left swastikas on trash can

Eric Horng Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Swastikas left on trash can in northern suburb; police investigating
The Highland Park, IL police department is searching for the person who used painters tape to put a swastika symbol on a trash can.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Swastikas made out of tape were left on a garbage can in a Highland Park neighborhood.

The discovery in the Hybernia subdivision prompted Highland Park police to increase patrols in the area on Friday, and city leaders have condemned the actions of whoever is behind it.

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The hateful and antisemitic message was made with painter's tape. ABC7 blurred the swastikas that were on it.

The vandalism was discovered by a woman who was out walking her dog this morning. She took photos and notified police.

That garbage can is actually used to store food for swans that inhabit a pond in the subdivision, an area where people are often out and about. Some nearby residents said they're disgusted, and are now on edge.

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Mickey and Deni Caplan, who are Jewish, live steps away.

"No neighborhood is unaffected, and none of us are safe. It's become legitimized and permitted, and this has to stop. We have to do something," said Deni Caplan, a Highland Park resident. "It's horrifying. I live on-edge day-to-day, and each day it gets closer and closer, and now it's down the block from me."

Mickey also weighed in.

"It's sad. It's scary, and it's frustrating, because it just continues to get worse and worse, and you live in a suburb of Chicago in the United States of America. You don't think it's going happen anymore in 2023," Mickey said. "It doesn't surprise me at all, because we're seeing it all around us now. I think we have to now be careful, more and more careful about what we're doing."

In a statement, the City of Highland Park said it "will take every possible action to ensure that residents, workers, and visitors will not face discrimination or harassment."

SEE ALSO | Swastika graffiti found in Edgebrook Public School bathroom twice in less than a week

"Violent threats have no place in our country, state, or city, and will not be tolerated," the statement continued.

The Anti-Defamation League said antisemitic hate incidents in Illinois more than doubled between 2021 and 2022, and there's been a 500% increase since 2016.

"I hope people are disgusted by it. I hope that people are not fearful from it, but instead, that they're disgusted," said Anti-Defamation League Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg. "It's important to speak out. It's important to respond with facts, because we see that hate is often driven by misinformation and disinformation. And, it's also important to show strength."