CORRECTION: This story initially stated that a Ho-Chunk Nation office was vandalized, which was not the case.
JEFFERSON PARK — Two Far Northwest Side businesses owned and operated by people of color were tagged with swastikas Tuesday night, owners said.
Black swastikas were painted on back doors, a front sign and a van belonging to Supreme Smoke Shop, 4766 N. Milwaukee Ave. and Cannabist, a dispensary at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The group is still working with neighboring businesses to get to the bottom of what happened, a representative said.
The tagging happened late Tuesday, said Arcan Abuhashish, owner of Supreme Smoke Shop.
Abuhashish, who is Arab, said the incident feels targeted toward nonwhite businesses along the block. He believes he knows who the offender is and has seen him before in the area, he said.
“The dispensary has all types of nationalities that work there … it definitely feels targeted,” Abuhashish said. “The point is, he knows what he’s doing.”
LizMarie Palomo, Midwest general manager for Cannabist, agreed the incident feels targeted and looks racially motivated.
“We have a lot of minorities who work here,” said Palomo, who is Latina. “It feels targeted but who knows.”
Both business owners said nothing like this has happened before but that it’s concerning and “it sucks,” Abuhashish said.
The dispensary has cameras in its alley. Palomo filed a police report and turned the footage over to police, she said.
“I am confident we can work together to figure out who it is so they don’t do this anymore,” she said.
Police spokesperson Kellie Bartoli confirmed the tagging and Area Five detectives are investigating. No one was in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Department of Streets and Sanitation’s street operations team will remove the graffiti as soon as possible, spokesperson Mimi Simon said.
Daniel Egel-Weiss, a vocal member of the Northwest Side’s Jewish community, expressed concern and surprise over the tagging and said it’s important to speak up against any kind of hate toward nonwhite communities.
“This shows the danger to all minority commuities in the US right now,” Egel-Weiss said. Targeting any minority community is an attack on all minorities. It’s clear the people who want to target [us] know how to focus their anger. It’s important that all groups and condemn this activity … it impacts everybody.”
Antisemitic incidents have been on the rise locally and nationally recently, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Such incidents rose 34 percent in 2021 over the previous year, according to the organization.
Earlier this month, a man was seen on video giving a Nazi salute before scrawling racist images outside an Avondale restaurant. Jewish institutions in West Ridge were vandalized and tagged with Nazi imagery earlier this year.
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