Swastikas pop up in Bellingham after bridge signs honoring Confederate soldier removed
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The City of Bellingham took down the signs for the Pickett Bridge on Friday. It was named after an Army officer who built Fort Bellingham, but later joined the Confederacy in the Civil War.
City leaders made the decision Monday after the violent White Nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the days after that vote, swastikas started showing up around town.
Like on the chalk wall at Leaf and Ladle , which is usually a place where people leave words that inspire.
But on Wednesday, messages of hate crept up on the wall. It was a swastika and an Aryan pride symbol.
“It just makes your stomach sick, it’s gross to know that that person was in here eating,” owner Taylor Melim said. “Either people are totally disgusted by that or they're not. And if you’re writing it, looking for a reaction, then you’re not totally disgusted by it.”
The swastika didn’t just pop up at the café. Someone tagged a swastika on the side of the Third Planet shop in the heart of downtown. Another swastika showed up in freshly poured concrete at Roosevelt Elementary School this week.
Many people in the community said the symbols and graffiti don't represent who they are.
“We don’t accept that, we don’t want their money, we don’t want their presence,” Melim said.
KOMO asked city leaders about what they thought might have fueled the vandalism; whether it might have stemmed from the Charlottesville protest or the city decision to rename the Pickett Bridge.
“It’s really hard to know what’s going on, but either way it’s disturbing and frightening,” Council President Michael Lilliquist said. "No one in Bellingham, that I know of, is tolerant of hatred, tolerant of overtly hostile acts of other members of our community.”
As far as the decision to rename the bridge, the city council president said a lot of people felt uncomfortable with the idea of it being named after a person who fought on the side of slavery during the Civil War.