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Update: Man arrested for spray-painting swastikas on D.C.’s Union Station

Update: A man has been arrested and charged for spray-painting swastikas on Union Station, Washington, D.C., police said Saturday. They arrested Geraldo Panda, 34, of no fixed address, and are investigating the crime “as potentially being motivated in whole or in part by hate or bias.”

Union Station swastika

One of dozens of swastikas drawn on Union Station Friday, January 28, 2022. (Screenshot)

More than 50 swastikas were drawn Friday on the grand facade of Union Station in Washington, D.C., Amtrak’s second-busiest hub.

Amtrak and D.C. police are investigating the graffiti, which was up for hours before crews began taping over it with plastic and heavy duty tape.

The swastikas were captured in videos and photos by Amtrak passengers and commuters who use the station’s Metro stop, one of the two closest to the Capitol.

In a press conference Friday, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee indicated that authorities have identified a suspect. “The person who did this could very well have some mental health challenges,” Contee said. “What I also know is that it appears that it may be one of our unhoused residents who did this, based upon some information that has been revealed.”

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Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said in a statement that the swastikas will be removed as quickly as possible.

Union station DC

Plastic and tape hide swastikas on Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. More than 50 appear on the outside of the building, Amtrak’s second-busiest station. Photo by Laura E. Adkins

The swastikas, hand-drawn at eye level, marred the length of the more than 100-year-old Beaux Arts building and continued around its corner. Thousands of people – including members of Congress and their staff – saw them before they were covered up. Witnesses also captured images of the plastic falling down.

Many posted their dismay to social media and noted that the swastikas appeared the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the annual remembrance established by the United Nations General Assembly on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

“Yesterday was #HolocaustRemembranceDay. Today, my friend shared the horror of walking through Union Station in DC to find swastikas on every single column. Too many to count,” tweeted Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. “This is not okay. Your Jewish friends are exhausted and need you as partners in calling out antisemitism.”

“A day after #HolocaustRemembranceDay, hate has reared its ugly head in the nation’s capital,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee.

Forward Opinion Editor Laura E. Adkins contributed to this story.


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