Swastika and racial epithet spraypainted on pink peace sign on Ojai’s Ventura Street

 Submitted photo2 22 21 Swastika

A swastika was spraypainted backward on a pink Ojai peace sign in front of a house on North Ventura Street in Ojai sometime in the night between Friday, Feb. 19, and the morning of Saturday, Feb. 20. An obscenity and racial epithet were spraypainted on the opposite side of the sign.


A backward swastika was spraypainted in blue on a pink peace sign at the front of an Ojai residence on North Ventura Street sometime during the night between Friday, Feb. 19, and the morning of Saturday, Feb. 20.

In addition, on the opposite side of the sign, an obscenity and racial epithet were spraypainted.

The resident of the house, Fern Barishman, who is Jewish, called the sheriff, and deputies responded right away and removed the sign.

Barishman said her tight-knit neighborhood has been a safe one in the more than two decades she has lived on her street. “I do feel a little less safe” now, she said. She said she also wonders if her house was specifically targeted because she is Jewish.

“I think we are living in tumultuous times,” she said. “Peace and love are the answer — not hate and crime. I try to act and come from kindness. … That is the only way to counteract this really horrible hate that is running through the country right now.”

Barishman said she called the Ojai Valley News about the crime and wanted her name to be included in the article “because it is important for people to know, for Jews not to be scared, but to stand together.”

She said she has received calls of support from several community members, including Rabbi Mordy Nemtzov of the Chabad of Ojai.

She said her pink peace sign was created by her neighbor and its color is inspired by Ojai’s “Pink Moment” sunsets. She has another custom Ojai sign at the front of her house with a heart in the “O” of Ojai.

Barishman said she first saw her peace sign was vandalized shortly before 9 a.m. on Saturday when her neighbor, who was taking a walk, texted her that she needed to call law enforcement. She said her street is fairly dark at night and there is no sidewalk in front of her house. Also, a public bench placed by the Lions Club near her house had blue spraypaint on it.

Barishman said a sheriff’s deputy returned to see her on Sunday, Feb. 21, to deliver a California Department of Justice flier about hate crimes. It reads:

“If you, or someone you know are a hate crime victim, you should:

“— Contact your local law enforcement right away.

“— Get medical attention (if you need it).

“— Write down the exact words that were said.

“— Make notes about any other facts.

“— Save all evidence. If safe, wait until law enforcement arrives and take photos.

“— Get the names and contact information of other victims and witnesses.

“— Try to get a description from any eyewitnesses of the crime.

“— Contact community organizations in your area that respond to hate crimes.

“— Contact 911 or go to a local hospital if you need immediate attention. To file a report, contact your local law enforcement agency. If you need additional information, contact the California Attorney General’s Office Victims’ Services Unit: 877-433-9069;"