190913-news-swastika

Portsmouth police said no charges will be filed for a  drawing of a swastika and other symbols because the graffiti was done in chalk.

PORTSMOUTH – Despite obtaining surveillance video of the person who drew a swastika, a Star of David and pentagram on the sidewalk outside a Congress Street restaurant, police said no charges will be filed if the person is identified.

Chief Robert Merner said the male in the video is the only person seen with chalk and writing outside The District restaurant.

The male appears to be white, wearing a jacket, camouflage pants and sneakers, Merner said. He is seen with a female in a jacket with the hood up, who has a backpack.

The graffiti was discovered Tuesday morning and was cleaned up by the public works department minutes after police alerted them.

Merner said no charges are planned because the drawings were done in chalk, not paint, and caused no permanent damage.

Merner said police do not consider the swastika a hate crime because it was not directed at anybody. If it was drawn on a home or business, that would be a different matter, Merner said.

He said police are still investigating and asking for the public’s help in finding the perpetrator because police need to make sure the individual has no ill intent toward  business owners in the Vaughan Mall area where the graffiti was drawn.

Merner said when major tragedies occur, whether it be the Boston Marathon bombings or the 9/11 attacks, police are often questioned as to why they missed the signs perpetrators displayed prior to the deadly event.

“It’s incumbent on police to do investigations into persons that may have ill intent for members of our community,” Merner said. “One of the first signs of something, of a hate crime being perpetrated or intended to be perpetrated, is this graffiti or online activity or something like that.”

Police ask anyone with information about the graffiti to call them at 427-1500, or anonymously by calling Seacoast Crime Stoppers at 431-1199.