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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Police arrest neo-Nazi suspect in Temple Beth Shalom vandalism

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 19, 2021

Spokane's Temple Beth Shalom is pictured in 1968, shortly before its construction wrapped. The building was vandalized in early February with anti-semitic graffiti, and Spokane police arrested a suspect on Thursday. (Cowles Publishing)
Spokane's Temple Beth Shalom is pictured in 1968, shortly before its construction wrapped. The building was vandalized in early February with anti-semitic graffiti, and Spokane police arrested a suspect on Thursday. (Cowles Publishing)
By Emma Epperly and Maggie Quinlan The Spokesman-Review

Police arrested a self-identifying neo-Nazi suspected of defacing Temple Beth Shalom with swastikas on Spokane’s South Hill earlier this month.

Raymond Bryant, 44, was jailed Thursday morning on suspicion of malicious harassment and malicious mischief, both class C felonies.

Police responded to a call at the synagogue on East 30th Avenue on the morning of Feb. 8 after graffiti was reported on one side of the building and on the Holocaust memorial there.

The police department collected paint samples from the building, and surveillance footage showed a lone man wearing gloves and a mask at the scene.

Spokane Police Department detectives executed a search warrant Thursday on Bryant’s Airway Heights home and then arrested him.

At a Black Lives Matter protest in September, Bryant toted a poster with a large swastika advertising his and a friend’s neo-Nazi organization. He stood with several other neo-Nazis. Bryant and Eddie McBride had shaved heads and wore black boots and mostly black clothing.

There, Bryant said he is a “proud Nazi” and “racist,” and his position “needs to be more extreme.”

Bryant and McBride said they believe the Holocaust never happened. In fact, historians estimate more than 5 million Jews were murdered during the genocide, according to “Quantifying the Holocaust,” an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.

Lewi Stone, the author and a faculty member at Tel Aviv University, wrote that the Holocaust was “unarguably one of the most destructive and murderous events in the history of human civilization.”

About 1 million Jews were murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone, along with about 100,000 other Europeans, according to the Auschwitz museum website.

Bryant was booked into the Spokane County Jail on Thursday and was set to have his first appearance in court at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

After his arrest, Bryant told police he was also responsible for distributing anti-Semitic flyers across Spokane, including outside a television station, a few days after the vandalism occurred, officers said.

Police Chief Craig Meidl called the vandalism “reprehensible,” adding that “We will always stand with those who are the target of hate and bigotry.”

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said the symbols “desecrate a place of worship and a memorial to those whose lives were lost during a hateful time in world history,” calling them “disgusting.”

“We speak on behalf of the community when we say this type of hate and divisiveness in our community will never be tolerated,” she said in a statement from her office on the day of the crime.

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