LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating vandalism in South Riding with “hateful, racist rhetoric.”

Police were called to South Riding Town Center on Friday around 8:30 a.m. Photos of the graffiti, spray painted onto concrete, circulated on Twitter and Facebook.

The hateful messages were antisemitic, racist and homophobic.

“There’s been a significant growth and antisemitic acts and incidences across this region and the country. It’s at the highest level since 1979,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Preuss said these cases are happening every week, so he was horrified but not surprised by the graffiti.

“Since June, there’ve been six different cases: a couple in Bethesda and in that same trolley trail, flyers handed out in Kemp Mill, there was graffiti at the Metro on in College Park,” Preuss said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is deeply disturbed by the discovery of antisemitic, racist, and homophobic graffiti in Loudoun County this weekend. The use of the symbol “1488” in particular indicates the perpetrator’s endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs. As we experience an uptick in antisemitism and hate in popular culture, we encourage our community to continue to speak out to show that hate has no place here.

Statement from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

“I know that the majority of the people who live here don’t want this in our community and also they want to speak up and stand out against these types of things happening,” said Meredith Ray, board member of the group Loudoun4All.

On Sunday morning, she helped organize a rally following the discovery of the graffiti. About 50 people joined the rally according to Loudoun4All. Ray’s 10-year-old son Owen took the lead with other kids to use chalk to cover up the hatred.

Local resident Quante Timbers of Timbers Landscaping volunteered to help remove the graffiti with his power washer. Owen was one of two kids who helped.

“The most important thing that he learned from all of this is just to show up for people and to say when things are wrong and show support for any other people because you never know when you will want people to show up and show support for you,” Ray said.

Preuss said he understands the desire to ignore hate speech but he said, “The only way that we’re going to be able to combat it is if we elevate it if we talk about it, and if we get our leaders in this community and this country to talk about and condemn it. It’s as if a genie has been let out. And somehow we need kind of the forces in this country, the leadership to say this is unacceptable, and force it back in.”

Preuss said in 2022 cases of antisemitism in the DMV have increased year over year anywhere from 10% to 30% depending on the area.

“Grotesque hatred like this must never be tolerated in modern society; we look forward to Loudoun County law enforcement finding those responsible and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Liora Rez, Executive Director of StopAntisemitism.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information to call Detective Fornwalt at 703-777-1021.