The “No Place for Hate’ mural on the side of Rita’s Water Ice on East Philadelphia Avenue in Boyertown was vandalized and police are seeking tips on the crime.
The name of a white nationalist group, Patriot Front, was stenciled over it.
Eastern Berks Regional Police Chief Barry Leatherman confirmed that a security camera on the building was blocked with what looks like the same black paint that was used to deface the mural.
The vandalism occurred between 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to police.
Police are taking information at 610-369-3050, 610-367-5550, or through Berks County dispatch at 1-800-372-9111. Anonymous tips may be called into Crime Alert Berks County at 1-877-373-9913. Crime Alert pays cash rewards for tips leading to an arrest.
Leatherman said police immediately knocked on doors of locations that have a view of the mural and reviewed security cameras on other nearby buildings.
“We’ve also been in touch with the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center, which tracks these groups, to see if there is any kind of commonality with other incidents in the area or around the state,” Leatherman said.
“We’ve been having a lot of vandalism lately in the park on Franklin Street, the community park and up at the watershed reservoir area,” the chief said.
But none of those incidents indicated any connection to a hate group, he said.
He confirmed an incident over the weekend at the Firefly Cafe restaurant on North Reading Avenue. An anti-LGBTQ sticker was attached to the door.
“Apparently it happened sometime Sunday, and they weren’t going to report it, but when they heard about the mural, they let us know today,” Leatherman Wednesday.
The Positive Parenting Connection of Boyertown reacted to the vandalism by calling for a rally at Rita’s at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are seeing a growing acceptance of this type of behavior (park benches with racial slurs, school board candidates who use racial slurs, anti-LGBTQ sticker on the Firefly Cafe) and we want it to stop,” Liz Thiesen, the group’s administrator, wrote in a statement.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, Texas-based Patriot Front broke off from Vanguard America in August 2017 after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.
The group’s founder, Thomas Rousseau, led Vanguard America members during ‘Unite the Right,’ including James Alex Fields Jr., now serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering anti-racist protester Heather Heyer after driving his vehicle into a crowd of protesters, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Source: Berkshire mont