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Eugene man arrested, charged with hate crimes over antisemitic graffiti at synagogue

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A 34-year-old Eugene man has been charged with hate crimes after multiple incidents of antisemitic graffiti were reported at the Temple Beth Israel synagogue.

Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Rubenstein at Temple Beth Israel says the most recent tagging incident occurred on Jan. 14 and was discovered when she and a community member checked on the building during Eugene’s recent ice storm.

The graffiti displayed the term “white power” on the side of the building.

“It’s the type of thing we want to make sure our community knows exists and, maybe equally as important, the type of thing we want our community to know we take very seriously,” Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said. “It’s the dark corners of our community that oftentimes don’t get exposed and we want to expose these types of behaviors in our community so they can be on the lookout for it and never be afraid to report this type of behavior.”

A series of tagging incidents were reported at the synagogue since last summer, with graffiti complaints filed Aug. 20, Sept. 11 and Oct. 7 of 2023.

Through a quality facial shot taken by a security camera at the Temple from Jan. 14, detectives with Eugene Police identified the 34-year-old, Adam Braun, as the suspect.

Eugene Police served a search warrant at Braun’s home on Wednesday and during a search found Nazi-themed items such as a “White Power” flag, a copy of “Mein Kempf” by Adolf Hitler, a Nazi flag and Ku Klux Klan costuming.

Braun was then taken into custody and arraigned on four charges of Bias Crime in the second degree Thursday afternoon, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Skinner said that Class A Misdemeanors occur all over the city but that this incident had a larger impact on the broader community.

“The Jewish community is not a monolith,” Rabbi Rubenstein said.” Unfortunately, with antisemitism as well as Islamophobia and so many other forms of hate on the rise, some of us really don’t find things like this terribly shocking at this point. And for some of us, it’s very striking. It shakes people up.”

Skinner said the department could not say whether Braun is part of a larger white supremacist organization or whether such a group exists in Eugene.

“Somebody like this doesn’t have a costume unless they’re going to a costume party,” Skinner said. “This person completely immersed themselves in this culture … so there wasn’t a lot of information to suggest this is a broader group. But we’re not naive. We know that this exists in our community.”

According to the police, Braun immersed himself in white nationalism and Nazi culture. During interviews, he admitted that he hadn’t watched TV in 15 years and obtained most of his information by listening and participating in podcasts and reading books.

“As most people who are really immersed in this culture and really proud of their stance on their extremist attitude, he is very happy to own and tell us that was him and that was obviously very helpful to get a confession,” Skinner said.

Rubenstein said she was grateful for the department’s work and community solidarity.

“We’re grateful that in Eugene when things like this happen the local community really shows up to express solidarity with us and to show that our common ground, the vision we have for community is so much stronger than the individual who wants to spread hate,” Rubenstein said.

Haleigh Kochanski is a breaking news and public safety reporter for The Register-Guard. You may reach her at HKochanski@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Eugene man charged over antisemitic graffiti at synagogue

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