Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) asked the Justice Department to open a federal hate crime investigation into vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri, where more than 100 headstones were toppled.
“We cannot afford to ignore the series of recent threats against the American-Jewish community,” Ellison wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday. “It is evident that a federal hate crime investigation is warranted due to the dark history of anti-Semitic attacks of this nature, both here and abroad, and the symbolic message it sends to the Jewish community all over the world.”
Today I sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to investigate the desecration of Jewish cemetaries as a hate crime: pic.twitter.com/w6mD7CTsVd
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 28, 2017
Dozens of headstones were tipped over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Police said they were investigating the vandalism but added there was “nothing to indicate it was any type of hate crime.”
Vice President Mike Pence condemned the vandalism as a “vile act.”
“There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said later in a surprise visit to the cemetery itself. “The people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place.”
Dozens of headstones at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were overturned over the weekend. According to a report by WPVI, more than 500 headstones were damaged in what police called an act of vandalism.
President Donald Trump addressed the threats and vandalism during a joint address to Congress on Tuesday night.
“While we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” he said.