Southampton Town officials cleaned up vulgar graffiti on a town sign at the end of Flying Point Road in Water Mill on Monday.
The sign was a Southampton Town beach regulations sign, which appeared to have three distorted swastikas and an expletive spray-painted on it, according to a photo provided to The Southampton Press. A nearby dead-end road sign was also vandalized, with the phrase “F--- the Hamptons” painted on it, according to Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr.
The signs were taken down by employees from the town’s Parks and Recreation Department early on Monday morning after Superintendent Chris Bean received a report about them from the police on Sunday night, he said. They were cleaned off and replaced later that day.
“We don’t like to let that sit around, because if you let graffiti sit around, it attracts more graffiti,” Mr. Bean said on Tuesday.
Chief Wilson said police believe the sign was painted sometime between Friday at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. It was reported to police on Saturday morning by a resident of the area.
“There was no lag,” the chief said. “When we were made aware of it, we notified who we had to, and then the signs were removed.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said on Monday that although she had not seen the town sign, she learned about the graffiti earlier that day through an e-mail from a town resident. She also said she believed the graffiti was trying to convey an “anti-government message” rather than make an anti-Semitic statement, since it was on a sign about government regulations.
“It’s something that we certainly take seriously, and we’ll certainly look into and try to get to the bottom of it,” she said. “I don’t know, it just seems like an odd venue for that message, too.”
Graffiti on town signs and buildings is not an unusual occurrence, especially on weekends, Mr. Bean said. He estimated that there have been a dozen or so acts of vandalism that his department cleaned up this summer. Some of the messages appeared to have been gang-related, he said.
“My feeling is, it’s just childish pranks,” Mr. Bean said. “I don’t think it’s anybody who is part of any sort of organization, but I don’t know. It just looks like childish antics.”
Chief Wilson said the department is investigating the incident, but not as a hate or bias crime under state law.
There were no witnesses or victims of the act, he said. Although the town department is investigating the matter, the Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit will be informed of the incident.
“At this point, as distasteful and upsetting as the material is, it is not a bias incident,” he said.