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Waynesboro Y director responds to mural vandalism

Randi B. Hagi
Nils Westergard's intact mural as seen in 2022.

On Monday, we reported the antisemitic vandalism that residents in Waynesboro discovered at the YMCA. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi spoke to the organization's director and filed this report.

Jeff Fife
Fife is the executive director of the Waynesboro Family YMCA.

Around 7 a.m. Monday morning, a patron coming in for a swim discovered that swastikas had been spray-painted on a mural on the YMCA's outer wall. Executive Director Jeff Fife said they immediately reported the incident to the police and covered the vandalism with banners. On Tuesday, the YMCA's board president was reviewing security camera footage from over the weekend.

JEFF FIFE: We're also sampling a solution today that takes off spray paint off of a latex wall. … We're using that … to try to get the red off without damaging the mural itself.

The mural, painted by Richmond- and Amsterdam-based artist Nils Westergard, depicts a Black father and his young daughter playing in the pool.

FIFE: It's very disappointing and upsetting. Ultimately, our organization is all about inclusivity, about diversity, about engagement, and it's a beautiful piece of street art depicting a father and his daughter enjoying a quiet moment in the water, and it's intentionally placed on the outside of our pool wall.

Fife said he saw on social media that a Sheetz banner in the area had been similarly vandalized. However, one silver lining has been the number of community members who have reached out expressing their support for the Y.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.