DORAVILLE, Ga. — Exactly one year after a Doraville business owner found a swastika sprayed on the side of a building he’s helping to redevelop, he was in a Doraville city courtroom fighting a citation the officials issued him over the graffiti.
Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik first reported on the Jewish family’s angst over finding the anti-Semitic symbol on the building, which sits along Buford Highway.
“We came and we saw the swastika and my heart stopped,” Eti Lazarian told Petchenik at the time.
Doraville police investigated and never found the culprit, but a code enforcement officer who visited the property on May 21, 2020 did issue a citation to Lazarian for numerous code violations, including the graffiti, trash and debris, overgrown weeds and an unsecured building.
Lazarian and his wife said they didn’t learn about the graffiti until the next day and immediately had it painted over.
“Horror,” Chaz Lazarian told Petchenik Friday. “This time and age, right down the street from our office.”
Lazarian said the citation the city issued for failing to remove the anti-Semitic symbol added insult to injury.
“They didn’t say anything like ‘we’re sorry this has happened’ or that they contacted the police department,” Lazarian said.
At a trial Friday, a specially-appointed prosecutor, Erin Omara asked code enforcement officer Kris Bordeaux about the property, which was the site of a former Kmart.
“The condition of the property has numerous code violations,” he said. “Anything from trash and debris to grass and weeds to an unsecured property.”
Omara asked Bordeaux specifically about the graffiti citation.
“Do you concern yourself with the substance of what the graffiti is?” she asked.
“No. Not at all,” he said.
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Bordeaux testified he treats all graffiti cases the same, regardless of whether the symbol is profane and that he issues a ticket after the graffiti hasn’t been cleaned up for three days.
Lazarian’s attorney argued he is not the owner of the property, rather a lawyer who is helping with the development of the 13-acre tract, and that he was not the proper person to receive any citations.
“You’ll not hear any evidence that Mr. Lazarian put any litter on the property,” said Paul Dzikowski. “He has cleaned up the property every single time it’s been noted.”
Dzikowski said one of his first contacts with code enforcement was over the swastika discovery.
“Mr. Lazarian is Jewish,” Dzikowski said. “Rather than the city stepping forward to figure out who did this, why did they do it, what does it mean for the city, he got a notice of violation and was told, ‘here’s a citation, clean it up.’”
Doraville City Councilwoman Rebekah Cohen Morris expressed major concerns about what happened after she found out by watching Petchenik’s report.
Lazarian told Petchenik his business partners have been trying to secure funding to redevelop the property.
“We’ve been chasing the city to get this property developed,” he said. “We’re the ones chasing them over and over to get things done.”
The court case against Lazarian has been extended until July 9.
Cox Media Group