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Swastikas Discovered At Upper East Side Athletic Facility

Asphalt Green
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Asphalt Green Photo by Elizabeth Kim

Police are investigating several swastikas that were scrawled on fixtures and walls inside a family locker room at Asphalt Green, an aquatics and fitness facility on the Upper East Side.

Maggie Siegel, Asphalt Green’s executive director, said on Friday that the incident was reported to staff by a member on Thursday afternoon. She said the swastikas appeared to be drawn using a black sharpie.

“We could not be taking this more seriously,” she told Gothamist. “We are a nonprofit neighborhood gem that serves all New Yorkers.”

Siegel said she expected there would be an announcement later today on the investigation. The NYPD is treating the incident as a hate crime and have been studying video recordings. There are multiple video cameras in the building, although none in the locker rooms, she said.

As of this morning, NYPD said there was no update.

An email about the incident was sent yesterday to members, several of whom tweeted about it.

There has been an increase in hate crimes in New York City in recent years, corresponding to a rise in hate crimes nationwide, leading one expert to describe the phenomenon as a "hate contagion." Last month, a 12-year-old boy was arrested for drawing dozens of swastikas and other anti-Semitic messages outside PS 139 in Rego Park.

Swastika incidents skyrocketed 76 percent from 2016 to 2018, according to the NYPD. The WSJ reported that the number of hate crimes in the city increased 55% this year through February 24th, compared with the same period in 2018, according to the NYPD.

Members walking out of the facility on Friday morning said they were shocked by the news.

“I was very shook up,” said Vickie Kobak, a neighborhood resident who said the area was very diverse.

Located on 91st Street and York Avenue, Asphalt Green is surrounded by a mix of large residential buildings, ranging from luxury condos to a public housing complex. Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, is nearby.

“It make me feel uncomfortable that there’s someone who would want to do those things," said Claire Bickerton, a member whose husband works at Asphalt Green. “I’d to see them held accountable.”

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