Schenectady swastika trip lands man in jail

A man accused of defacing several businesses in the Capital District with hate symbols is now facing criminal charges.

Schenectady police were called around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday June 14, with reports that someone had drawn swastikas on the side of St. Joseph’s Church on Lafayette Street.

During their investigation, officers discovered several other swastikas and other symbols that had been chalk-drawn on numerous downtown businesses, police said.

Members of the Schenectady Fire Department helped remove the marks, police say.

On Friday June 17, police announced that they had arrested a suspect, identified as Gabriel Mims, 28, of Schenectady.

He was charged with four counts of first-degree aggravated harassment, all felonies.

“We thank local businesses for their assistance in the investigation, and Schenectady Clergy Against Hate for their community guidance and support,” Schenectady Police said in a statement.

Following the incident, Schenectady Clergy Against Hate released a statement encouraging residents to “overshadow” any hate graffiti with images of love.

“Please consider decorating your homes with such symbols,” the organization said. “Use chalk to promote harmony, respect and unity on the sidewalks in front of your residences.”

The group also posted a “Stand Up Against Hate With Love” flyer on its Facebook page that residents were encouraged to print and hang in their windows.

“Spread the word of tolerance and drown out any voices of hate,” the group wrote.

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