photo - The nonprofit Citizens Project recently launched its annual multimedia campaign, which aims to provoke thoughtful and productive conversations about much of the hate, vitriol and discrimination being witnessed across the nation an in Colorado. Earlier this month, hundreds of many different faiths and races rallied in support of a local Jewish temple. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)
The nonprofit Citizens Project recently launched its annual multimedia campaign, which aims to provoke thoughtful and productive conversations about much of the hate, vitriol and discrimination being witnessed across the nation an in Colorado. Earlier this month, hundreds of many different faiths and races rallied in support of a local Jewish temple. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

Two days after a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti were found at a Colorado Springs synagogue, several hundred people gathered Sunday to show their support for the Jewish congregation and denounce prejudice.

Several religious leaders who attended the 90-minute rally at Bonforte Park a block from Temple Beit Torah called the vandalism "cowardly," vowing it would neither scare the Colorado Springs community nor keep it from standing up to hatred.

"If it's done in one place, it could be done at any other place," said Khurshid Qureshi, president of the Islamic Society of Colorado Springs board. "Vandalizing a synagogue in our city is a shame. People of many faiths have elected to live in this city. ... We've come here to love and live in peace together. We don't want to live with the people of hate. We'd like to invite them to come and understand us."

No arrests have been announced in the vandalism Friday that targeted the Jewish house of worship at 522 E. Madison St. and neighbors' cars and homes.

A swastika and the words "sig (sic) heil" - for "sieg heil," a Nazi salute - were scrawled on one side of the temple's sign. The other side was marked with an unintelligible message. The word "sig" also was painted near the building's south entrance.

"It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time," Rabbi Steven Kaye told The Gazette on Friday. "We have faith and we go forward."

Sunday's rally was organized by The Rev. Ahriana Platten of Unity Spiritual Center in the Rockies, along with other Colorado Springs clergy.

She and other speakers and residents at the rally talked about how shocked and saddened they were by the attack on the synagogue, and the harm it does to the image of the city once known as a bastion of intolerance for its support of an anti-gay rights measure.

"Love lives here," Platten said. "Colorado Springs is often perceived as a city of hate. And when hate crime happens, then we reinforce that out in the world. When we gather like this, we remind ourselves who we really are, we remind the haters who we really are. And we remind the world who we really are."

The graffiti at Temple Beit Torah was the second anti-Semitic vandalism in Colorado Springs this summer.

In June, a "FIGHT TERROR, NUKE ISRAEL" sticker was plastered on the door of Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Colorado. Two men were captured on surveillance video placing the sticker on the door shortly before 1:30 a.m. June 10.

Alleged white supremacist William Scott Planer, 34, is listed as a fugitive, but faces charges in the crime.

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