AVONDALE — Police are searching for a man seen on video giving a Nazi salute before scrawling racist images outside an Avondale restaurant last week.
The vandalism occurred around 11 p.m. May 24 at Mexican restaurant Con Todo Cantina y Cocina, 2853 N. Kedzie Ave.
Surveillance footage shows a man with long hair wearing sunglasses and a blue jacket, holding his right arm aloft in a Nazi salute as he walks past and looks toward the restaurant.
The man walks past the restaurant again a few minutes later, then goes up to the building for about 45 seconds, appearing to do something to it, before walking off, videos show. Most of the man’s body is out of the frame.
Police are investigating the incident as criminal damage to property, a police spokesman said.
Con Todo’s co-owner JC Castañeda said he was “taken aback” when he found a swastika scrawled on the north side of the building Thursday and reviewed the restaurant’s surveillance footage.
Con Todo’s cameras captured the man, as did cameras belonging to next door neighbor Studio Instrument Rentals at 2835 N. Kedzie Ave.
“It seems like there’s hateful people out in any community. I just wasn’t expecting it to be in ours,” Castañeda said. “More than anything, I was concerned for the safety of my staff. That’s why I contacted the police. You never know with people … if it’s a false threat, all the better. If not, you want to make sure you have as much information as possible.”
Castañeda opened Con Todo earlier this year with his brother, Edgar, and their friend, Jonathan Zaragoza. The restaurant serves Mexican-American food inspired by the trio’s Mexican and Chicago roots, including tacos and a smashburger torta called a pamburguesa.
Castañeda said other restaurant owners and neighbors in the area should be on alert following the incident.
“We just want to make sure that No. 1 we’re safe, and if this element exists in our community, that everyone else is safe, too,” he said.
Anti-Semitic behavior is on the rise in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Such incidents rose 34 percent in 2021 over the previous year, according to the organization.
Jewish institutions in West Ridge were vandalized and tagged with Nazi imagery earlier this year.
Anyone with information about the Avondale incident is encouraged to submit an anonymous tip online.
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