BALTIMORE — Baltimore Police are investigating after anti-Semitic messages were spray-painted on more than a dozen headstones at a Jewish Cemetery.
The Jewish Cemetery Association of Greater Baltimore, which is the non-profit that oversees the German Hill Road Cemetery, said swastikas and other hateful messages were found on 13 headstones.
Steven Venick, who is the president of the organization, said visitors at the cemetery discovered the hateful messages on the Fourth of July.
The graffiti was cleaned up by the cemetery’s caretaker the next day, he said.
“The first word that comes to mind is disheartened,” Venick said. “We don’t know who did it. We don’t know why it was done.”
Detectives with BPD were out at the cemetery Wednesday and interviewed neighbors in the area. It remains unclear when exactly the damage was done.
“Our officers are looking into this matter in an attempt to come up with leads to determine who may have committed this crime,” a spokesperson with the department said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitism is on the rise. The organization recorded 305 anti-Semitic incidents in May of 2021, which was a 115 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
This vandalism incident is just the latest case of anti-Semitism in Baltimore. Last month, a man was charged for several swastika graffiti incidents in Fells Point.
“We have had vandalism sporadically throughout the years where people come and knocked headstones over,” Venick said. “This is the first actually I can recall swastikas actually spray painted on headstones.”
Howard Libit with the Baltimore Jewish Council said his organization created a task force that looked into the issue of anti-Semitism.
He said they came up with a series of recommendations that included focusing on education and advocating for certain laws.
Libit said it’s important for all communities to come together and denounce this type of hate.
“It’s despicable and it’s something we all have to stand together against,” he said.
"There will be additional security measures put in place at the cemetery to prevent the vandalism from happening again," Venick said.