Police investigate after Idaho hospital vandalized with swastika

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Police are investigating after a central Idaho hospital was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas.

Three outdoor signs at St. Luke’s McCall Medical Center were vandalized late Saturday or early Sunday morning, hospital officials said.

“It is very troubling, to say the least, to have such a hateful act occur on our campus,” said hospital spokeswoman Laura Crawford.

Crawford said the hospital’s security team was working with local police and an active investigation is underway.

“This act is incredibly troubling,” said Amber Green, St. Luke’s McCall chief operating officer and chief nursing officer, in a prepared statement. “We know that this hateful act does not reflect the community where we live and serve. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement so whomever is responsible is held accountable.”

McCall Police Chief Justin Williams said vandalism like this is rare for the region, but there is no indication that the graffiti was part of a hate crime targeting any specific person or that it is related to the coronavirus pandemic. Idaho’s hate crime law requires the actor to have the “specific intent” to harass someone because of the victim’s race, religion, ancestry, or national origin.

“The community is outraged that something like this would happen but to make the assumption that the hospital was targeted because of COVID is a leap at this point,” Williams said.

He said the case remains under investigation, and people with information are encouraged to contact the police department.

The graffiti comes as the state remains under “crisis standards of care” because hospitals are overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19 patients. The crisis standards of care designation means hospitals are allowed to ration health care if they are unable to treat everyone normally, giving scarce resources such as hospital rooms or intensive care unit beds to those patients who are most likely to survive.

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