Attleboro says ‘no room for hate’ following antisemitic, racist playground graffiti

The city of Attleboro is sending the message “no room for hate,” after one of their playgrounds was covered in derogatory and racist graffiti last month.

It has since been cleaned, but it happened weeks before a bomb threat was sent to a synagogue in town.

Parents like Courtney Goglia call the Balfour Riverwalk Park an “oasis” and “an amazing place for kids to come and play.”

That is why she and other parents were unhappy to learn racist, antisemitic and violent terms and images were written and drawn onto a playground at the park.

Goglia said the park should be a safe place for children like hers.

“He’s learning to sound out words. He just turned five and as soon as he tries to read these things, he’s going to ask me what they are,” said Goglia. “So, that’s pretty terrifying.”

Another parent, Bethany Estano, said this is not the first time she has seen graffiti on the playground.

“I don’t understand. Sometimes I see things that look vulgar,” said Estano. “I’d rather my kids not learn new advanced vocabulary words at a children’s playground that they shouldn’t know.”

Attleboro Mayor Cathleen DeSimone said a library employee noticed the graffiti last month, during an event at the park.

Swastikas, the N-word, “KKK” and antisemitic sayings were written on the inside and outside of red tunnels and a slide.

The graffiti was cleaned shortly after, but the city said they will be doing more.

“We realized that the incidents of hate speech are on the increase, so we prepared a resolution to be signed by myself, the municipal council and the school committee,” said DeSimone. “Just stating that we are against all forms of hate speech, discrimination and bias, and that was before the attack on Israel.”

More than a month after the graffiti was discovered, an Attleboro synagogue was the subject of a bomb threat last Saturday, prompting police and K9s to search the building.

Parents say both incidents, though unrelated, are forcing them to have difficult conversations earlier.

“I want to introduce those ideas to my children on my terms not because they’re exposed to something that’s really inflammatory, and it comes from a place of ignorance,” said Estano.

NBC 10 found more graffiti on a second playground at the park, this time with vulgar comments.

Shortly after, the Department of Parks and Forestry arrived to clean the graffiti, a task they have unfortunately gotten used to doing.

“I’m sorry that people in our community are making extra work [for Department of Parks and Forestry], that they don’t feel responsible for the upkeep of the community the same way that others do,” said Estano.

DeSimone said the city will continue to clean up the graffiti, as long as they are made aware of the matter.

The city asks parkgoers to continue reporting criminal activity like this and for those responsible to educate themselves and socialize more with community members in a healthy way.

“There is no place for hate, there is no need for hate and hate just does no good,” said DeSimone.

The mayor expects a unanimous vote for the resolution condemning the racist action.

If you see racist, derogatory, vile graffiti on the playgrounds, you are asked to contact the city of Attleboro’s Parks & Forestry Department.

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