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Neighbors cover hateful messages, symbols found on buildings near UCF

Swastikas found painted on buildings Christmas morning

ORLANDO, Fla. – When neighbors at an apartment complex near the University of Central Florida woke up to hateful graffiti painted on their buildings Christmas morning, they quickly worked to cover up the symbols with messages of love.

Resident Salt Rubio and his neighbors said they woke up to the malicious messages at the University Apartments on Tuesday after a graffiti tagger left them overnight.

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Orange County Sheriff's Office deputies found more graffiti in the area on other businesses, including swastika symbols at the Habenero's Mexican Grill, Four Rivers Smokehouse, a U.S. Postal Service building and a Tires Plus.

The vandals appeared to have used black spray paint to deface multiple buildings with swastika symbols, even leaving the hateful messages on residents' hallways at the University Apartment complex.

The targeted businesses and buildings were on Collegiate Way, University Boulevard, Research Parkway and Alafaya Trial, according to the report from the Sheriff's Office.

Rubio said it’s not the first time he’s seen something of that nature in the area.

"I have seen a lot of messed up stuff around here,” he said. "I don't want to say that it doesn't surprise me, but it's just like, you just shake your head."

The symbols of disorder also troubled neighbors like Asim Ghalib.

"Sometimes when we see these things certain things, come to my mind, like, 'What is happening to people?'" Ghalib said.

Neighbors decided to spread a message of their own this holiday season by using Christmas wrapping paper and the phrase “Love is greater than hate” to cover the hateful symbols.

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"I had celebrated Christmas at my boyfriend's house in the morning, and I was on my way back down Alafaya Trail, and I noticed two apartment complexes that had a few swastikas on them," UCF alum Mary Peabody said. "And I was like, 'This is terrible,' and I stopped by the store and got some wrapping paper, because I was like, 'I got to do something.'"

"It's swastikas! I was like, 'Wait a minute, it's Christmas morning.' Last thing I want anyone to see on Christmas morning is something like that," Chuck Peabody said.

Rubio said he thinks the messages could have been left in an effort to ruin someone's holiday but that he and his neighbors weren't going to let that happen.

The Sheriff's Office is actively investigating the incident.


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