The Washington Metropolitan Police Department and Amtrak Police announced Saturday the arrest of a man for allegedly spray-painting swastikas on columns at Union Station and for defacing three other buildings.
Police say the vandalism occurred Friday, a day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
For the graffiti at Union Station, police charged the 34-year-old with Display of Certain Emblems. They charged him with Defacing Private/Public Property for the incidents at the three other buildings.
The man may be an unhoused resident and could have mental health challenges, DC Police Chief Robert Contee said during a news conference.
CNN Affiliate WUSA9 reports dismayed visitors attending the press conference questioned why the culprit wasn’t confronted while the vandalism was happening.
“I thought there was supposed to be a lot of security around train stations and airports,” WUSA9 quotes traveler Vickie Elson of Massachusetts as saying. “Where were they? This is so sad.”
In the statement Saturday, MPD noted the incident at Union Station is being investigated “as potentially being motivated in whole or in part by hate or bias,” adding “a designation as a hate or bias-motivated crime by MPD does not mean that prosecutors will prosecute it as a hate crime.”
“Amtrak strongly condemns this act of hatred and will work with our landlord, USRC and their lessor to remove these symbols as quickly as possible,” Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods told CNN on Friday.
Union Station has a team of experts working to remove the graffiti from the historic granite, according to the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser.
“This symbol of hate displayed in our city is both shocking and unsettling, particularly on the heels of International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Bowser said in a statement. “This antisemitic and hateful symbol has no place in our city, and we stand united with the members of our Jewish community against anti-Semitism in all its forms.”