By BEN EVANS
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - A swastika was found Tuesday painted on a sign outside Rep. David Scott's district office, an act the Georgia Democrat said reflects an increasingly hateful and racist debate over health care and should serve as a reminder for people to tone down their rhetoric.
Scott's staff arrived at his Smyrna, Ga., office Tuesday morning to find the Nazi graffiti emblazoned on a sign bearing the lawmaker's name. The vandalism occurred roughly a week after Scott was involved in a contentious argument over health care at a community meeting.
Scott, who is black, said he also has received mail in recent days that used N-word references to him, and that characterized President Barack Obama as a Marxist.
"We have got to make sure that the symbol of the swastika does not win, that the racial hatred that's bubbling up does not win this debate," Scott said in a telephone interview. "There's so much hatred out there for President [Barack] Obama."
A moderate Democrat who represents a majority-white district near Atlanta, Scott said he thinks the racism is isolated, but can't be ignored. He said the swastika probably was intended as a warning. He hopes it instead persuades reasonable people to maintain a more substantive debate over health-care changes.
"We must not allow it to intimidate us," he said.
Scott said his office immediately notified authorities, including the U.S. Capitol Police, who have warned lawmakers about potential threats stemming from the increasingly emotional debate over health-care reform. An FBI spokesman said the bureau is investigating along with Capitol Police and the Smyrna Police Department.
Scott's Smyrna office is located in a bank building, so the congressman said he was optimistic that surveillance cameras captured the vandalism.
At an Aug. 1 community meeting in Douglasville, Ga., Scott angrily yelled at protesters who peppered him with questions and complaints about Democratic health-care proposals. He has said he was upset that they interrupted a meeting that was supposed to be about plans for a new highway in the area.
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