Street art became anti-Semitic graffiti in Washington, D.C. for the third time in one week after vandals wrote “Jew” on images of rats meant to evoke the Chinese Zodiac.
On Monday morning, Twitter user Michael Villafranca noticed that a graffiti of a Chinese Zodiac rat with the word “Jew” on it had reappeared on the streets of DC after being cleaned up twice last week.
Anti-Semitic graffiti has returned yet again to Chinatown crosswalks @311DCgov@MayorBowser@councilofdc@DCistpic.twitter.com/g5cBiGhpR0— Michael Villafranca (@MCVillafranca) August 8, 2016
Passerby first noticed the graffiti at the intersection at 7th and H Streets in the heart of D.C.’s Chinatown on Aug. 3, said Eli Schechner, a Princeton University junior who is doing an internship at a foreign policy think tank and first noticed the graffiti. In May, the city decorated the crosswalks there in honor of the neighborhood’s character and history, and included the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, including horses, snakes, bulls — and rats.
Schechner noticed mentions of the graffiti on Twitter that day, and then saw it himself the next day — after the city had tried to remove it, and someone had redone it.
“It was a little early in the morning to be seeing signs of anti-Semitism,” Schechner said.
@elischech@RicardoHarvin@MurielBowser Awful, it was cleaned by noon today.— DDOT DC (@DDOTDC) August 3, 2016
Schechner hopes it stays gone, but also admits this anti-Semitic graffiti was a strong example of the genre.
“It’s a clever way to get anti-Semitism out there rather than just writing a swastika on a building,” he said. “I’m glad they’re embracing nuance.”
Contact Helen Chernikoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thesimplechild
Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild.
Jew Rat Graffiti Returns to DC Street for Third Time in One Week