A Tempe woman has decided to move out of her apartment complex after the word “kike” was painted on the side of her car after a parking dispute.

A.T., a Jewish woman who requested a pseudonym in fear of retaliation from the vandal, has a designated parking spot at an apartment complex in west Tempe near Chandler. On Feb. 22, a white Kia Optima was illegally parked in her spot and the apartment management company had the car towed. Later that day, her neighbors notified her that her car had been defaced. 

In addition to the slur, her tires were slashed, there were traces of garbage on her car and her Israeli stickers were torn off. A.T. guessed that the stickers were what caused the vandal to write the slur.

“I was so afraid that I told my husband that we needed to leave and we called my mother-in-law to stay with her,” A.T. said. “We packed up everything and our baby and left, because I was afraid that they were going to come into our apartment and hurt us.” 

Tempe Police Department officers came to investigate and were provided a description of the alleged vandal by the apartment company’s security guard. A.T. also posted that description to the neighborhood app Nextdoor, which drew a response saying that a man matching the same description, who also owned a white Kia Optima, broke a window and slashed the tires of another car in Tempe a few weeks earlier.

Tempe police Lt. Michael Hayes said that a new detective, who specializes in hate crimes, has been assigned to the case. He also added that Tempe police officers are encouraged to attend different religious community events not only to provide security but also to “be a part of the larger religious community.”

Sylvia Moir, Tempe’s chief of police, received the George Weisz Anti-Defamation League Law Enforcement award in November. Moir, who’s been chief since 2016, received the award for her respectful and earnest approach to policing, according to regional ADL director Carlos Galindo-Elvira. 

“We are taken aback by the shocking hate incident in Tempe where a woman’s car tires were slashed, Israeli flag sticker ripped-off and vehicle window vandalized with an anti-Semitic slur,” Galindo-Elvira said in a statement. “We’ve reached out to the victim and local law enforcement. We’re calling for the responsible individual to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

One of the reasons A.T. initially moved to her apartment complex was because it featured a security guard. But she still doesn’t feel as safe as she would like to. 

“I don’t feel safe walking from my apartment to my car,” A.T. said. “I don’t even feel safe walking to the leasing office to pick up my packages. I drive there now instead.” 

This anti-Semitic act comes a little over a month after Mesa police investigated the posting of anti-Semitic flyers near Skyline High School — the first anti-Semitic incident in Arizona in 2019. The last anti-Semitic incident logged for the state by the ADL for 2018 was an act of vandalism at Lake Havasu City’s only synagogue, Temple Beth Sholom. JN

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