Two members of the Haddonfield Friends Meeting discovered swastikas on two trees at the graveyard facing the meeting house and across from the Haddonfield Friends School on April 1.
When police and members of the Public Works Department arrived to cover the swastikas, they noted that someone else had reported the incident around March 31.
More symbols were discovered on a tree closer to the meeting house on April 3, when the Friends gathered to cover the first two affected trees with chalk and to plant saplings that sprouted from the acorns of a centuries-old Salem County Peace Tree that had fallen in 2019.
The additional symbols had been tagged with the same paint used on the swastika-marred trees and have since been covered.
“We’ve been in Haddonfield for 300 years and nothing like this has ever happened (to us),” said Dave Austin, clerk of the Haddonfield Friends Meeting.
In an effort to reclaim and renew the space, the Friends drew chalk drawings of hearts and peace signs on the trees and livened the space with flowers across the fence lining to welcome back Haddonfield Friends School students from spring break.
“I am disgusted by the swastikas and grateful to our Haddonfield Police Department and Department of Public Works for responding, reporting, and working to clean up these signs,” said Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich.
“Hate and bigotry have no home in Haddonfield, whether anti-semitism or any other type,” she added. “As Passover is only two weeks away, it’s important to stand in solidarity with our Jewish community members and denounce these symbols. “
“Nobody’s immune to this stuff anymore,” said Austin. “It’s an anti-semitic symbol, but it’s a hate symbol. It’s about hate, it’s about intolerance. Nobody’s immune from that and everybody should be angry about it.”
The Haddonfield Monthly Meeting plans to beef up its security by installing cameras. The vandalism remains under investigation by borough police.