vandalism

Fort Lauderdale Home With Ukrainian Support Flag Vandalized By Hate Symbols

The hate symbols were painted over an "I stand with Ukraine" flag hanging on the garage door, which the homeowner says he was proud to have

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A Fort Lauderdale man woke up to find his garage door vandalized with hate symbols on Sunday morning.

The homeowner says his neighbors witnessed the incident, which occurred on Northeast 59th Street and 18th Terrace at approximately 11:41 p.m. on Saturday.

The symbols were painted over an "I stand with Ukraine" flag, which the man says he was so proud to have.

“I was so disappointed," the man said. "I’ve felt so good about Fort Lauderdale so long...because this stood there and I felt proud about it, and then for someone to deface it, just like that.”

“[The neighbors] saw it, they approached them, they yelled at them to stop," he said. "These people were yelling out ‘traitors’ to the crowd, and very slowly and methodically continued to deface the door, the Ukrainian flag, and then sped off.”

Neighbors called the police and provided the license plate number of the vandals. Shortly after, Fort Lauderdale police responded to the scene.

FLPD told the homeowner and his neighbors that they are looking into the incident as a hate crime.

A woman in the neighborhood named Genia Bonchuk is from Ukraine. She said she felt the support when she saw her neighbor put up his flag.

“I was so happy," said Bonchuk. "I actually took a picture and I sent it back home to show all my friends and family and I said, ‘Look you guys, the United States and my neighbor support us.'”

Now the pictures she's taking are of the flag defaced by symbols associated with Nazis.

“I’m obviously frustrated, but you know what?" she said. "If Russians were winning, this wouldn’t be here, so this tells me we are on the right track.”

The homeowner says the support from his neighbors is keeping him optimistic.

“Society has its problems," he said. "But I’m lucky to be around a group that really has a lot of heart.”

The man says he plans to leave the vandalism up for a few weeks.

“People need to see that," he said. "Neighbors, people driving, people need to see what's going on.”

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with NBC 6 for updates.

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