On Nov. 15, Malibu resident Betsy Rosen and her friend Lori Albert were out for one of their frequent walks along Westward and Zuma beaches. Just past Sunset Restaurant, near the kiosk at the entrance to Westward Beach, a yellow gate closed off the road to vehicles. Two paper signs were posted on it saying “Road Closed For Maintenance”—except that one of the signs had the word “Maintenance” crossed out and the word “Jews” written in.
“It was disturbing,” said Rosen, who is Jewish, in a phone interview. “They only did it on one out of two signs. We continued walking. On our way back, I said, ‘I don’t think anyone else needs to see this,’ and I took a photo of it and then took down the sign … I was saddened by it and by what it says about our political climate today.”
Minutes later, the two women ran into their friend Lori Gray on Zuma Beach and showed her the sign they had ripped down. Gray, also Jewish, was incensed, and sent Rosen’s photo to the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue’s current and former rabbis, MJCS Executive Director Al Welland, and high-profile businessman Michael Salove.
Rosen reported the incident to the LA Anti-Defamation League through an online reporting system.
“It’s sad to see this here where I live and where I walk four to seven times a week. I felt very vulnerable,” Rosen continued. “I don’t normally rip down signs, but I just thought, ‘No, not in my Malibu.’ Hopefully, the person who did this will get no validation from it because I took it down, and it couldn’t have been up very long or I would’ve seen it.”
A call to the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station last Friday, Nov. 19, confirmed that the incident had not been reported to them. They expressed concern and asked The Malibu Times to file the report, which it did. LASD will be contacting Betsy Rosen, and a spokesperson at the station said the public should report any instances of hate speech to their station immediately.
Lt. Jim Braden, the LASD liaison to Malibu, said in a phone interview that he was not aware of any other such incident recently in Malibu. He said various different laws could apply, depending on specific circumstances.
The most recent incident of hate-based graffiti in Malibu was reported at Escondido Falls in 2017 when Swastikas—a recognized hate symbol referring to Nazi atrocities committed during the Holocaust—were spray-painted onto a tree along the hiking trail leading to the popular destination.
“This is very uncommon in our world,” Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority spokesperson Dash Stolarz said at the time. “I know there’s been that kind of thing [happening] around the country. In terms of our Santa Monica Mountains, I can’t even remember ever having this happen.”
Anyone who comes across graffiti containing hate speech may report it to the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station by calling 818.878.1808.