Employees of the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene arrived at work this morning to discover a swastika sticker on the front door.
Director of Operations Donna Cork took a photo of the two-inch-by-three-inch decal, then called the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, which is investigating the matter under Idaho’s malicious harassment law. The 1983 law makes it a felony to intimidate another person based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin.
The intimidation includes defacing property, which is defined in part as “the placing of any word or symbol commonly associated with racial, religious or ethnic terrorism on the property of another person without his or her permission.”
“It’s a felony,” said Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which has battled the white supremacy movement in North Idaho for 30 years.
Stewart said police collected evidence this morning at the institute. “We could get lucky and get fingerprints,” he said. “This is not a misdemeanor. We’ve had really good success over the years with the police and the prosecutors.”
The institute’s education director, Rachel Dolezal, locked up the building, located at 414½ Mullan Ave., around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cork arrived around 8:30 a.m. today to open the doors and saw the sticker.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a great way to start my day,’” Cork said, adding “then you get the heart clench.”
Dolezal said the sticker conveys a threat. “It’s a psychological form of violence,” she said.
The institute will turn over to police any evidence gathered on its surveillance camera, which is aimed at the lobby and front door, Cork and Dolezal said. “With the landscaping lights (outside), I would think there’s a possibility you could tell if it’s one or more people,” Dolezal said.
Sgt. Christie Wood of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department said officers will take fingerprints and search the premises for evidence.
“There’s also video surveillance and we’ll review that,” Wood said.