LA police Dept. rocked by anti-Semitism scandal: Officers paint Swastikas on cars
Two Los Angeles police officers were charged on Thursday for carrying out anti-Semitic vandalism but the ensuing investigation revealed that anti-Semitism is disturbingly widespread among LA cops.
29-year-old Christopher Tomsic and 28-year-old Cody Wedlin who left the Torrance Police Department last year pleaded not guilty to felony charges of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism.
The incident took place on January 27, 2020, when the two officers responded to a call claiming that some men had stolen mail from an apartment building. They impounded a car they believed was involved in a crime and the car was taken to a tow yard. When the owner arrived to retrieve his vehicle, he discovered it had been spray-painted with a happy face on the front passenger seat and a swastika on the rear seat.
The two police officers were terminated the following March.
Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart said at a news conference that 13 other officers have been placed on administrative leave after the investigation into Weldin and Tomic revealed that these other officers allegedly engaged in racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic messages. The District Attorney’s office released a statement saying that they had identified hundreds of other cases that the two officers were involved in that will be reviewed for misconduct.
“We have seen an increase in hate crimes, not only in our own home town but around the country. And it’s unacceptable,” Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said. “But it becomes doubly unacceptable when we have the people that are sworn to protect all of us who engage in this behavior.”
LA: a hotbed of anti-Semitism
Los Angeles saw a surge in anti-Semitic incidents that coincided with the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May. In the first six months of 2021, there were 43 hate crimes targeting Jewish people, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. That is a 59.2% increase from the same timeframe last year, and more than double the number of incidents in a comparable period in 2018. An estimated 600,000 Jewish people living in Los Angeles gives the city one of the largest Jewish populations in the world.
On May 18, five Jewish diners were physically attacked in Beverly Grove by a group that, witnesses said, drove by flying Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Jewish slurs. In an incident that took place one day later, an Orthodox man in the Fairfax District was chased by two vehicles as the passengers waved Palestinian flags and shouted: “Allahu Akhbar” (Allah is greater).
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