BOONE — The Boone Police Department is investigating vandalism on the Boone Greenway that depicted anti-semitic symbols.
The vandalism was reported to Boone Police the morning of June 1. Boone Police Sgt. Geoff Hayes confirmed the vandalism was reported near the water treatment plant and the lower bridge on the Boone Greenway.
Hayes said that officers responded and took a report of the vandalism. If a suspect is developed during the course of the investigation, Hayes said that the investigation’s findings would be presented to the district attorney’s office who would make a determination of potential charges.
In late September 2018, someone anonymously spray-painted a Nazi symbol in one of the Appalachian State University free expression tunnels. The Watauga Democrat previously reported that the picture depicted on the wall replicated a Nazi flag with writing that said both “heil Hitler” as well as “the Holocaust was a good thing.”
In North Carolina, any person who engages in graffiti vandalism is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under NCGS 14-127.1.
According to NCGS 14-3, any Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor that is committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin also means the offender shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If any Class A1 or Class 1 misdemeanor offense is committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class H felony.
In late March 2021, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives. The act would increase the scope and punishment of hate crimes, and require the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to create and maintain a hate crimes statistics database.
The act would also require the North Carolina Justice Academy to develop and provide law enforcement with training on how to identify, respond to and report hate crimes. It would also develop training for prosecutors on how to prosecute hate crimes.
Hayes added that Boone Police has not seen an uptick in vandalism cases in the town.
A request for comment from the Temple of the High Country about the depiction of the anti-semitic symbols was not returned as of presstime.