Hate strikes in the northern suburbs, as Jewish headstones were spray-painted with swastikas in a Waukegan cemetery. Police are now investigating.
The horrific discovery was made early Monday morning at Am Echod Cemetery on Grand Avenue. Waukegan police said red swastikas were spray-painted on at least 16 tombstones. Police said 23 other headstones were defaced.
“My immediate thought is with my parents and how angry they would be,” said Larry Yellen.
The small, Jewish cemetery is more than 100 years old and holds special meaning to Yellen, whose parents, Morris and Dorothy, are buried there.
“My father lost at least four aunts in the Holocaust, his family was from Poland. They know more than anyone what a swastika means,” said Yellen.
Yellen grew up in Waukegan. He is one of dozens of community members whose relatives’ burial sites were defaced.
“They have defaced the gravestone of somebody who fought bravely in World War II through 50 missions in a B17 as a bombardier. They have defaced the gravestone of his wife who raised five children and all went through the Waukegan school system,” said Yellen. “I think they need to know a little bit about the people that they have attacked in such degrading form.”
On one tombstone, a vandal wrote, “Kanye was rite.” This comes after the rapper has made headlines in recent weeks for anti-Semitic remarks.
“Let’s be clear, they should illicit a visceral reaction. It is hateful, anti-Semitic and they’re dangerous because they can cause these types of real life acts,” said Goldenberg.
In a statement, Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor sayed, “I am deeply disturbed and angered by the hateful imagery found spray-painted on headstones this morning in Am Echod Jewish Cemetery. Hate does not have a home in Waukegan; when such incidents occur, our marginalized neighbors are victimized, and our entire community suffers. I hope our officers promptly locate the perpetrators of this despicable act and hold them accountable, and I offer my full support to those directly impacted by this vandalism.”
The Jewish advocacy group StopAntisemitism tweeted the vandalism was depraved and evil.
Anyone with information about this act of hate is asked to call the Waukegan Police Department tip line at 847-360-9001.