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Maine attorney general accuses father, son of spray-painting ‘Gas Jews,’ swastikas

“These words and symbols, defacing public property, are clearly designed to make people in our community feel unwelcome and unsafe,” stated Aaron Frey, the state's chief lawyer.

Police Tape. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.
Police Tape. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.

A father and son allegedly vandalized road signs and streets in three Maine towns, as well as a city, with antisemitic words and symbols, according to a complaint which the state’s attorney general filed on Tuesday.

William Deary, 49, and Hayden Deary, 18, both of Harpswell, Maine, are accused of carrying out the anti-Jewish vandalism on or about Jan. 7 in the towns of Harpswell, Brunswick and Topsham, and the city of Bath.

“These words and symbols, defacing public property, are clearly designed to make people in our community feel unwelcome and unsafe,” stated Aaron Frey, the state attorney general. “This behavior by father and son Deary is shocking and reprehensible. My office will use the statutory authority provided to confront their bias-based threats.”

Among the texts that the father and son are accused of writing is “Gas Jews” on an intersection and on columns supporting an overpass, per the attorney general’s office. The two also allegedly spray-painted swastikas, and the numbers 88 and 14, on signs and along streets in multiple Maine towns, according to the complaint.

“As defendant Hayden Deary later told the investigating officers, the number ’88’ means ‘Heil Hitler.’ According to the complaint, the number ’14’ further represents white supremacist and racist ideology,” the attorney’s office stated. (Aitch is the eighth letter, and 14 refers to the number of words in the neo-Nazi slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”)

Members of a Bath synagogue were concerned for their safety, according to the attorney general’s office, which added that an armed police officer is posted at the synagogue during Hebrew school hours on the site.

The Dearys, who admitted to spray-painting the hateful messages, also vandalized a road sign with “a racial epithet a short distance from the Cook’s Corner area in Brunswick, where asylum seekers are being housed,” per the attorney general’s office.

“William Deary indicated that he was upset about immigrants moving to the Cook’s Corner area and was angry at the Jewish people for promoting the COVID-19 vaccine and sending immigrants in ‘to clean the white race out,'” it added. “Hayden Deary indicated that he had been frustrated by ‘mass immigration.'”

Danna Hayes, an attorney and special assistant to the Maine attorney general, told JNS that the state is seeking $5,000 per violation per defendant under the state’s Civil Rights Act.

The attorney general’s office is also seeking an injunction that would prevent the defendants from engaging in similar behavior in the future. If the defendants violated such a civil order, they could face punishments up to 364 days in jail or up to a $2,000 fine, Hayes said.

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