City of Syracuse looking at policies for reporting racial incidents after racist graffiti found

Nov 22, 2019

The city of Syracuse is looking at existing policies for reporting and addressing race and hate incidents after racist graffiti was discovered behind a Syracuse community center, and belatedly reported to police.

City Parks Department employees discovered the graffiti, including a spray painted swastika, behind the Southside Community Center on October 30. It was immediately removed, but Mayor Ben Walsh didn’t find out about it until this week.

"Not surprisingly we get a lot of graffiti on city property, and we have a protocol that largely was followed. Except that in this case, given the actual images, this is a matter that should go to the police department," Walsh said.

Police are now investigating. Beyond that, Walsh has ordered a full review of the city’s existing policies for reporting and dealing with race, bias, and hate incidents not just for employees, but for citizens as well. Walsh said the city has zero tolerance for hate, and he wants citizens to know what to do if confronted by it.

“If you see a hateful image, an offensive image, call the police," Walsh said. "The police can determine whether or not it’s criminal in nature."

This investigation comes as central New York is highly attuned to acts of racism and hate following a series of incidents on the Syracuse University campus.