Kansas City Public Library Investigates Swastika Graffiti

Dec 13, 2016

Kansas City Public Library officials say they plan on pressing charges after several marks of racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic graffiti were found inside the Central Library location downtown Sunday.

A library statement says the graffiti was found in a men's bathroom stall, on a portrait of former First National Bank executive Taylor S. Abernathy, on a glass window near the library's main entrance, and on a stairwell leading down to the library's vault level. 

All of the graffiti and the defaced portrait have been removed. 

"Something of this magnitude has never happened at our library, and all of us our shaking our heads because we are so surprised," says Carrie Coogan, the Deputy Director of Kansas City Public Library.

The library says the graffiti around the library contained several swastikas as well as a variety of "racist, derogatory, and sexist statements." Coogan says the "most disappointing and discouraging" graffiti was in the men's bathroom. Scrawled on a stall in permanent marker, she says, were swastikas, racist phrases, and the words: "Hail President Trump!" 

Coogan says library surveillance footage shows what appears to be a tall, white man with shaved or bald head defacing the Abernathy portrait. The footage indicates the incident took place about 4 p.m. Sunday. 

"We are talking with police to determine whether this is a library regular or if anybody recognizes him," Coogan says. 

Coogan adds that while the defacing of books — even with racist graffiti — is common, this incident has shaken library staff. She says, though, the library remains an open place. 

"You know, we believe in freedom of expression and freedom of speech, but this is certainly not something we condone at all," she says. 

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster and a reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle