While there’s a new coat of paint on her apartment door, a 27-year-old mother of three knows what it’s hiding.
Like a shattered plate that’s glued back together, the cracks remain, Sara Attia said on a Monday night phone call.
“The ‘Heil Hitler’ and swastika is still there,” she said.
Attia, 27, discovered her apartment was vandalized with the anti-Semitic graffiti in what marks the second reported instance of a swastika being painted onto a Las Vegas Valley home recently. While police said they didn’t think the previous swastika instance was a targeted effort, Attia’s family is Jewish.
Attia isn’t typically awake at 5 a.m., but she was on Monday for an international phone call. She walked out of her apartment door in the morning hours to grab cigarettes from her car. She saw the black spray paint on her door and panicked.
“As soon as the light in my hall hit the door, I saw it immediately,” she said.
She quickly looked around to ensure nobody was watching her, then went inside, checked on her kids, locked the door and called police, she said.
Metropolitan Police Department officers arrived within 30 minutes, and several officers canvassed the area to ensure there wasn’t other danger, Attia said. Police assured Attia they were stepping up patrol efforts in the area, and officers came to her children’s Jewish school Monday, too, she said.
Metro’s gang unit called her complex, near Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, Monday morning to get the door repainted, Attia said.
“I’m just really grateful to the police department to take this as seriously as we needed them to take it,” she said. Metro couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Monday.
She’s glad she found the spray paint on her door before she took her children to school. Her children, ages 3, 4 and 6, still don’t know what happened to their door.
Attia speaks Hebrew, listens to Israeli music and practices her faith in a public way, she said, and the staircase outside her apartment only leads to her unit.
“It’s not coincidence we were targeted,” she said.
Monday could’ve been a happy day, she said. She and her family were approved Monday to move to Israel after a three-year wait while navigating red tape and bureaucracy, she said.
“I should’ve been ecstatic, but instead I was crying because of the day it had happened,” Attia said.
She and her husband hope to move to Israel in about three months to be closer to family that live there, she said, adding that Monday’s incident had nothing to do with their decision to move.
The swastika paintings come in the wake of the Oct. 27 attack inside of a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a gunman killed 11 people and yelled that he wanted to kill all Jews.
She hopes the graffiti was a prank by “some dumb teenager who doesn’t know any better,” because the alternative is unsettling.
“A joke or not, it wasn’t funny,” she said.
The vandalism has strengthened, not weakened, her commitment to her faith, Attia said. She hopes that her experience can lead to a dialogue about acceptance for not only Jews, but for other religions and historically targeted groups such as the black and LGBT communities.
Hours later, Attia was still processing the day’s events. Panic, fear and, late Monday, anger was creeping in. This was an act against not only her faith but her family, she said.
“All that was stopping them from me and my children was that door,” she said.