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

Court documents: Nazi says he vandalized synagogue in hopes of recruiting more racist extremists

Feb. 19, 2021 Updated Fri., Feb. 19, 2021 at 7:18 p.m.

Raymond Bryant, 44, kneeling, threw a Nazi
Raymond Bryant, 44, kneeling, threw a Nazi "sieg heil" salute with other local members of a national Nazi group outside Temple Beth Shalom synagogue. (Courtesy photo)

A suspected vandal and self-identifying Nazi admitted to defacing a synagogue and Holocaust Memorial in Spokane this month because Nazi recruitment has been down and he needed the publicity, according to court documents.

The head of security at the Spokane Temple Beth Shalom synagogue on East 30th Avenue for 20 years told police he immediately recognized the vandal as 44-year-old Raymond “Ray” Bryant.

When reviewing security footage, he saw the vandal spray paint swastikas on the temple and deface a Holocaust Memorial there – all of which cost $2,000 to remove, according to court documents.

Before the man spray painted one security camera with red paint, he looked directly in it. The security officer told police it was Bryant. Police, reviewing images of Bryant along with security footage, believed he was a match, too.

Fliers left behind also advertised the Nazi group that Bryant had distributed fliers for in the past, even documenting it on YouTube, court documents say.

Bryant, a member of a national neo-Nazi group, had been at the temple before with one arm in the air, throwing a Nazi salute, and police reviewed photos of this incident, according to court documents.

A member of the synagogue discovered the vandalism around 9:20 a.m. Feb. 8, the court records say. She saw two roughly 4-by-4-foot swastikas spray painted in red on the side of the temple. More red paint covered the Holocaust Memorial statue, to the right of the entrance. On the glass double doors to the temple, there was a Nazi SS bolt.

Police arrived at Bryant’s home Tuesday to interview him and he agreed to it, according to court documents. Bryant admitted to being a “lieutenant” in the local Nazi group, which Bryant described as made up of “proud white nationalists,” but he denied going to the temple Feb. 8.

He told police that the group had decided from the beginning that they did not “need to do violence or any kind of, like, vandalism or anything like that because it just doesn’t do anything.”

Bryant initially told police he had never been to the synagogue but later changed his story, saying he had been there but did not know where it was and “couldn’t go there on my own,” according to court documents.

When Detective Brian Cestnik told Bryant police cars have automated license plate readers mounted on their cars and showed Bryant a photo of his car on Feb. 12 – not the night of the crime – Bryant said he might have been near the temple “scouting out” places to dump anti-Semitic fliers, documents say.

Bryant then changed his story again, according to court documents, saying he’d been at the temple to get “publicity” because “a lot of times they would discard our fliers.”

He said his vandalism on the Holocaust Memorial was meant to be more symbolic but failed.

“I tried to spray a swastika on it but I couldn’t tell what the hell it was so I just said ‘whatever,’” Bryant told police, according to court documents.

Police searched Bryant’s home on Thursday and found clothes they suspected he’d worn during the vandalism and papers indicating Bryant’s anti-Semitic beliefs, court documents say.

As of Friday, Bryant has been charged with malicious harassment with threats and second-degree malicious mischief, according to court records.

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