(JTA) — A man in Anchorage, Alaska, who vandalized a local Jewish museum and several other locations with swastikas has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, on a combination of charges including unrelated drug trafficking.
Luke Foster went on a vandalism spree in 2021, twice tagging the Alaska Jewish Museum with stickers featuring a swastika and the phrase “WE ARE EVERYWHERE.” He also carved a swastika into the side of the building, and distributed stickers at seven other locations around town, including a gay nightclub.
Federal authorities initially tracked Foster down due to his unrelated efforts to sell hallucinogenic mushrooms online. When they searched his home in late 2021, they found various neo-Nazi material and evidence that he had committed the vandalism, Alaska Public Media reported. He was ultimately sentenced for one drug trafficking offense and two counts of hate-motivated property damage.
“It’s very sad when you see young people who are misguided, and don’t understand the danger of being influenced by the fear of ‘the other,’” Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, president of the museum’s board, told local outlets.
During his trial, Foster apologized for his actions. Greenberg said he was encouraged by the apology.
Alaska opened its Jewish museum in Anchorage in 2013; it houses a religious center and an early education program in addition to the museum. Around 4,500 Jews live in the state and refer to themselves as the “Frozen Chosen.” The same year the Jewish Museum was being targeted by the swastika stickers, the local Jewish community was rallying against COVID-19 lockdown protests that appropriated Holocaust imagery and were briefly endorsed by Anchorage’s mayor before he apologized the next day. Several notable Alaskan politicians, including multiple mayors of Anchorage and perennial U.S. Senate and House candidate Al Gross, are Jewish.