On the morning of Friday, April 1, members of Haddonfield (N.J.) Meeting discovered two swastikas spray-painted on trees located on either side of the entrance to the meeting’s graveyard.
The incident was reported to the Haddonfield police.
The meeting also contacted media about the vandalism leading to stories in local publications.
“Even though we are Quakers, there are times when we cannot and should not be silent,” Haddonfield clerk Dave Austin wrote in a statement posted to the Haddonfield Meeting website on April 1. “No matter what the possible motivation for this incident might have been, we must as a community come together to stand against it. Intolerance festers and metastasizes in darkness and silence: it depends and feeds upon apathy and indifference. Each of us can play a part in preventing that from happening.”
Haddonfield Friends School, the pre-K through eighth school that also faces the graveyard, was on spring break at the time of the incident. The meeting and school together decided to paint over the hate symbols so that students and staff of the school would not have to deal with seeing them upon their return.
On Sunday, April 3, the meeting held an event to respond to the graffiti. They invited the local community to decorate the area with symbols of peace, love, and tolerance before students returned to the property the next morning. The event also included a planting of a sapling from the Salem Oak. The Salem Oak, a tree over 500 years old on the property of Salem (N.J.) Meeting, fell in 2019. Saplings of the tree were provided to Friends meetings throughout southern New Jersey.
Haddonfield Meeting clerk Dave Austin was informed on April 7 that the Haddonfield police had identified two juveniles responsible for the graffiti.