Man Arrested After Swastikas Painted At Washington’s Union Station In Possible Hate Crime, Police Say

A hand-drawn swastika is seen on the front of Union Station near the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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WASHINGTON – A man has been arrested and charged with spray-painting swastikas on the facade and columns of Union Station in what D.C. police and Amtrak police said today they are investigating as a possible hate crime.

Geraldo Pando, 34, who has no fixed address, was charged with displaying certain emblems and defacing public and private property, a misdemeanor and a felony under District of Columbia law punishable by up to one year and up to 10 years in prison, respectively, according to police and charging papers.

In announcing the arrest Saturday, authorities said Pando spray-painted the swastikas on the Capitol Hill transportation hub at about 12:45 a.m. Friday.

Later Friday, at about 4:25 p.m., police said Pando also allegedly spray-painted graffiti on buildings on 5th Street NW north of New York Avenue and nearby blocks of L Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, which led to his arrest, authorities said.

Detectives are investigating the Union Station defacing “as potentially being motivated in whole or in part by hate or bias,” although the investigation is continuing and prosecutors have not made a charging decision, Amtrak and D.C. police said. Crews were working to clean the white granite surfaces of the colonnade, which faces the U.S. Capitol.

In charging papers, D.C. police said that an Amtrak officer identified the suspect on surveillance video and shared the image with other law enforcement agencies. Capitol Police said they recognized the defendant and helped the Amtrak officer identify Pando at his tent in front of the station at Columbus Circle Park, according to an arrest affidavit.

Pando wore a matching jacket and shoes as the person seen in surveillance video, the affidavit stated. Pando said he didn’t remember painting the swastikas or a curse at former president Barack Obama, but that he “probably did write that [the latter] because he hated Obama and that Obama was always in his head,” a D.C. police detective who interviewed Pando wrote in the complaint.

On Friday before the arrest, D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said authorities thought the person who defaced the building may be a homeless person and “could very well have some mental health challenges.”

Contee also said D.C. police had been in touch with the District’s Jewish community. In an email, Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the agency was working to learn more.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington said on Twitter that the symbols – found the day after people around the world observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau – were disturbing.

“This antisemitic and hateful symbol has no place in our society, and to find it in our city the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is particularly offensive,” the tweet said.

(c) 2022, The Washington Post · Spencer S. Hsu 



  1. That a homeless and mentally ill man wrote graffiti of a swastika at one location and anti Obama graffiti at another is a reflection of that individual and not of society as a whole. In general the stories that are often told about anti semitisim, like of a person who openly harasses a Jewish person for example, are about how there are some people who will act that way, and there have always been such people. The fact that there are such people is not an indication of anti semtic views in society in general. That said, the reality is that there is, and has always been, a sizable percent of society who hold anti Jewish views. These are things they were raised with and in turn their parents were raised with. So the only reason that some people are shocked and surprised when they discover that there are people who hate Jews is because they are ignorant of reality.

  2. He is one of great many mentally disturbed people in Washington DC.
    The question is – why are’t the other ones homeless, and are receiving large federal salaries, instead?


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