Originally published: WKOW.com
By Ward Jolles
MADISON (WKOW) -- A swastika was spray painted onto a trans flag on Madison's east side. Experts say it's a part of a growing national trend of anti-Semitism in the United States.
The trans flag was hanging in Madison resident Everett Trechter's yard. Trechter is a trans man himself and is in the process of converting to Judaism.
"I like didn't see my original flag and then found this on the ground," Trechter said holding up the vandalized flag. "I picked it up and realized, 'oh, this is a swastika.'"
Trechter said he's lived on the east side since 2018 and has always felt safe. He said a neighbor took down the vandalized flag and gave him a new one with a kind note attached.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), reports of anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise.
In 2021, the ADL recorded more than 2700 reports of anti-Semitism in the United States, the highest number since the organization started recording in the late 70s.
"To put that another way, that is seven anti-Semitic instances per day across the country," ADL Associate Regional Director for the Midwest Trent Spoolstra said.
Spoolstra says tensions over the past few years are mostly to blame.
"2016 and 2020 saw very heated, very controversial elections, and so that spurs up in motion," Spoolstra said. "We have been fighting a pandemic the world hasn't seen in over a century, and then finally, I would also include social media."
Spoolstra says the first people blamed for national problems are often marginalized groups.
"Marginalized groups get blamed when things go wrong in society," Spoolstra said. "And as we say, here at ADL, the canary in the coal mine, the one group, usually the first group, that gets blamed are Jews."
As for Trechter, he says he hopes what happened to him sends a clear message to others.
"This is more than just an attack on trans people, this is more than just an attack on Jewish people," Trechter said. "It is a symptom of a very interconnected set of beliefs that are out to attack basically, everyone."