Jacksonville marquee, billboard defaced with antisemitic graffiti on 1st night of Hanukkah

On the first night of Hanukkah, two signs in Jacksonville were defaced with antisemitic comments.

This comes as religious-based hate crimes are on the rise and law enforcement agencies are warning members of the Jewish community to be alert for possible threats.

RELATED: Jewish community remains mindful of threat concerns as Hanukkah begins | Man arrested following antisemitic vandalism incidents at University of Florida religious centers, police say

One of the defaced signs (pictured above) is a shopping mall marquee for a Dollar General on Beach Boulevard about a half mile west of St. Johns Bluff Road.

This marquee has a hateful message spray painted on it that says “[Expletive] Israel.” It’s been covered up by trash bags.

Another billboard about 7 miles away on Atlantic Boulevard just past San Pablo has been blacked out after someone defaced it with the words “Zionists are terrorists” and a Palestinian flag.

The original message on the billboard said: “Let’s be Clear: Hamas is your problem too.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents have drastically increased over a one-year span in the United States. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oc. 7, more than 300 antisemitic incidents have been reported.

During the same time frame in 2022, 64 incidents were reported.

RELATED: Jewish Community Alliance hosts 3rd speaker series focused on antisemitism as incidents increase across US

The local hate messages appeared as the Jewish community gathered Thursday night for the giant menorah lighting at the Jewish Community Alliance on San Jose Boulevard.

The lighting was open to the public this year, instead of just members of the alliance.

To combat antisemitism, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 269 earlier this year, which makes leaving hateful messages a third-degree felony in Florida.

In January, the Jacksonville City Council approved legislation that banned anyone from projecting any message onto a building or someone’s property without permission. That followed a series of antisemitic messages that were displayed during the Florida-Georgia game in 2022 and on the CSX building that year.

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