The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial has now been defaced with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti three times in the past week, causing extensive damage to marble tablets at the memorial. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday that the attacks are being treated as a hate crime. “There’s an obligation to call this what it is. It’s a cowardly act. It’s a criminal act,” he said. “The words that they wrote are obviously attacks against people that live in this community simply based on the religion they practice or the color of their skin.”
The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which operates the memorial and has its offices next door, reported an outpouring of community support, including two individual donors who came to the center’s office and donated $20,000 apiece on Thursday – the estimated cost to replace two marble tables damaged in the first of the three incidents. Two online fundraising drives are raising thousands more.
Dan Prinzing, the center’s director, told the Statesman, “We are being told, ‘Yes, repair. Yes, replace. But also: Enhance. Build more.’ It’s been an overwhelming response.” The Statesman’s full report is online here.
The memorial is an educational park dedicated in 2002, funded by contributions from more than 3,000 individuals and corporations; schoolchildren across the state collected coins to fund a life-sized, $42,000 bronze sculpture of Anne Frank. The site functions as an outdoor classroom, a place of contemplation, a tourist attraction, a gathering place and a monument.
Located along the Boise River Greenbelt in downtown Boise, the memorial features the life-sized bronze statue of Anne Frank, peering out a window; inspiring quotes from more than 60 of the world’s humanitarian leaders; benches and reading areas; marble tablets engraved with the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the few places in the world where the full declaration is on permanent public display; waterfalls; reflecting ponds; serene landscaping; and several other features aimed at contemplation, inspiration and human rights. It is the only permanent Anne Frank memorial in the United States.
The Statesman noted that the vandalism at the Anne Frank memorial follows other racist vandalism in Boise in recent months: In December, a racist slur was written in the snow on the roof of a storage shed at the Black History Museum; and in the fall, a Black Lives Matter homecoming float at Boise State University was targeted.
The New York City-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect announced Thursday that it will send a team to Boise in response to the incidents; that will include actors to perform “Letters from Anne and Martin,” a play featuring writings from Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr., on May 24.