Hollywood Man Caught Drawing Swastika on Jewish Mother's Packages

Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP, file

Ah, California. The state best known for peace, love, and tolerance. The home of the biggest names who love to lecture the rest of us about not being evil is clearly Hollywood. And yet there is a "Hollywood man" at least temporarily knocking Florida Man into second place for generating bizarre headlines. A single Jewish mother of two caught a man from her apartment complex on camera as he scrawled a swastika on her shopping order that had been delivered to her door. When she confronted him about it, he attempted to pretend that he had no idea what she was talking about. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and now Mark Nakagawa has some explaining to do. (CBS News)

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A woman in West Hollywood is recounting the moments after she says her doorbell camera allegedly captured her neighbor writing a swastika on a box of Seltzer on her front door.

Leah Grossman confronted her neighbor on Dec. 5th at 10:15 p.m., seconds after video captured Mark Nakagawa leaning down and writing on her groceries.

"And I just shattered. You know, I just fell to pieces. Like I've never shook like that before. My toes were shaking. I get emotional thinking about it because it reminds me of all the people I know, my family, my children," she said, while trying to hold back tears.

Nakagawa is a real piece of work. After being caught in the act, the brief conversation he had with Leah Grossman was simply offensive. She repeatedly asks him if there is "a problem" to which he says, "no." She asks him if he was drawing a Nazi symbol on her package. At first, he says no, but then twice claims that he doesn't know what the symbol was when pressed further.

It turns out that there was already some history between these two. This incident took place in December, though we're only learning about it now. During a homeowners association meeting in October, Nakagawa had called Grossman a "fascist" for hanging an Israeli flag from her balcony after the October 7 attacks. He then claimed that Grossman had called him a fascist also.

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When CBS News contacted Nakagawa to ask him about these incidents, he amazingly claimed that he was attempting to "educate" Leah Grossman about the swastika "as a Buddhist symbol of love." He further insisted that he had no idea that she would have become so upset by it. This is just stunning.

The real question is what happens to Nakagawa next. There is no indication in the linked report that Grossman reported him to the police or that they are looking into the matter. But that should probably happen and California has some legal history to support her complaint. Last October, a Los Angeles County man was arrested and held on $35,000 bail after spraying swastikas on eight cars in a parking lot. He was charged with attempted hate crimes and vandalism. 

This isn't some dusty old law that's been hanging out on the books forever. In 2022, Gavin Newsom signed a bill that updated and equalized criminal penalties for hate crimes. It included three "symbols" in the list of offenses, the swastika, the noose, and a desecrated cross. But there's a catch. AB2282 specifically called out places where it would be illegal to display those symbols. They include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, places of employment, private property, public parks, public spaces, and public facilities. People are not banned from displaying the symbols on their own private property. This took place in the hallway outside of Grossman's apartment, so we may be in something of a legal gray area. 

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Whether Nakagawa is held accountable for this action or not, it's still an unpleasant reminder of how awful this situation has become. I honestly never thought we would see the day when people in the United States were targeting Jews with swastikas. And yet it's happening right in Hollywood. It boggles the imagination.

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024
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