- Associated Press - Sunday, August 27, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - When a family recently came across a swastika spray-painted on a tree during a walk through a Sioux Falls park, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

The Argus Leader reports the Bofenkamp’s hike on the Leaders Park hiking trail quickly soured when the family saw the spray-painted swastika glowing in fluorescent orange on felled tree.

The Bofenkamps finished their hike and went home but came back the next day with some paint of their own. They masked the swastika with paint and spelled the word “love” in pink over the area.

“I decided (my daughter and foster son) needed to see something hateful changed to something positive,” said Christine Bofenkamp.

Sioux Falls Police spokesman Sam Clemens said officers prefer a call rather than a citizen cover-up job.

“Putting graffiti on top of graffiti doesn’t really solve the problem,” Clemens said.

Had the swastika been reported, Clemens said it might lead police down the path of classifying it as a hate crime, but that it would likely take more than its presence to be deemed as one under state law. Such crimes require a specific intent to hurt or threaten a specific person.

He said that if it appears on a house or a synagogue, the intent is clearer. The line is not as clear if it appears in public.

“If you’re just putting that up on the side of a bridge, we don’t really know what the intent was or if they were messing around,” he said.

A Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman said crews would check into vandalism at Leaders Park.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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