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Holocaust Memorial Vandalized at Santa Rosa Cemetery

A stone fountain that is the centerpiece of a memorial to Holocaust survivors at a Santa Rosa cemetery was discovered in pieces on the ground Friday.

Santa Rosa Memorial Park staff discovered the damage about 2:20 p.m. Friday. The fountain’s column had toppled and crashed through the basin, breaking the structure in half. It was the second time in two years that the fountain had been defaced.

Friday’s damage appears to be another case of vandalism, according to John Morton, the cemetery’s family service manager, and Dennis Judd, who commissioned the fountain in 2016 as a tribute to his late mother, Lillian Judd, and her husband, Emil, who both survived the Holocaust.

Both said the concrete fountain was sturdy and secured and wouldn’t easily fall.

“A gust of wind isn’t going to push this over,” Morton said.

The ritual washing fountain stood at the center of the memorial, which includes a tile-covered wall naming other family members killed in the Holocaust.

The memorial is by the cemetery’s driveway off North Street and is visible and accessible from the road and sidewalk.

Noting it’s the only damaged property, Judd said he suspects the vandalism may have involved a hate crime.

“The hatred, the anger has got to get dealt with,” said Judd, who lives in Sebastopol.

All appeared to be fine around 9 a.m. Friday and there’s no telling when the fountain was damaged, Morton said.

Santa Rosa police were notified, and Sgt. Chris Mahurin said it will be investigated as vandalism and officials will look into whether it involved a hate crime.

The fountain had been repaired after being vandalized in 2020. No arrests were reported in that case, which was not classified as a hate crime and remained open pending new information.

Mahurin said the 2020 incident wasn’t designated a hate crime because whoever was responsible also ransacked a maintenance shed and a break room ‒ an indicator that the fountain wasn’t singled out.

Repairs from 2020 were still marked by blue paint as a reminder of what happened, and Dennis Judd pondered taking similar measures after the fountain is repaired, although possibly with different colors.

The community rallied in response to the 2020 vandalism and helped raise thousands of dollars to make repairs. There were also efforts to push educational programs and events on hate and the Holocaust.

“I wanted to turn it into something that’s positive,” Judd said.

He said he hopes a similar response will present itself this year and that the damaged fountain will be left alone for anyone who wants to see it.

Still, he laments that there were numerous efforts to unite the community in 2020, yet vandalism still occurred on Friday.

Any repairs will likely cost more than last time.

“It’s busted up more this time than last time,” Judd said.