When a Hartford, Connecticut man went to visit the grave of his son last month, he noticed that the cemetery where his son was laid to rest had been vandalized. Now, about one month after the alleged attacks, three teenagers have been arrested for the damage.
Nearly 100 gravestones were destroyed during the attack. Locals are calling it ” a crime that inflicts pain and suffering on other families.”
The vandalism, which happened at a Jewish burial ground, was originally presumed to be a hate crime. After speaking with the teens, authorities now believe that the damage was done when local teens were just passing through the cemetery on their way to a nearby park. The attackers, ages 14 to 15, were arrested over the weekend.
The senseless attack amounted to more than $20,000 worth in damages.
Leonard Holtz, with Congregation Ados Israel, said the vandalism “basically attacked the defenseless and the emotions of those survivors.” He added that the arrests “don’t lessen the pain for people who have had their monuments desecrated.”
Holtz also noted that, despite added security, visitors to the cemetery are still uneasy. “It has taken away the feeling that you can go here with peace of mind,” he said.
Damage done to a sacred burial ground is not merely aesthetic, argues Holtz, and he wants those responsible “to be held accountable.” Holtz added, “A cemetery should be a sacred place, holy ground, this should never happen.”
Dozens of headstones still lie in ruins at the Tower Avenue Jewish Cemetery.
The name of the suspects have not been released, since they are minors. Each offender has been charged with interfering with a cemetery or burial ground and criminal mischief. Both of these are juvenile offenses. Each of the three teens have received a summons to juvenile court.
What do you think the teens’ punishment should be for destroying graves at a sacred burial ground?