Grand Rapids Jewish cemetery vandalized with 'MAGA,' 'TRUMP'

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
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Law enforcement and defamation groups continue to investigate vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids.

Several stones at the cemetery led by Congregation Ahavas Israel "were spray painted over the weekend with the letters TRUMP and MAGA," the synagogue said in a statement its leader, Rabbi David J.B. Krishef, sent Monday to The Detroit News.

"TRUMP" was spelled out in spray-paint at the site.

The Anti-Defamation League of Michigan said it was working with local law enforcement to investigate the vandalized graves and that it was “appalled by the reported desecration.”

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for federal authorities to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime and said it was offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

“The sacred sites of people of faith must be protected from vandalism that is meant to spread fear and intimidation,” the group's executive director, Dawud Walid, said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League chapter posted photos of the vandalism.

"We are appalled by the reported desecration of gravestones at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, MI," ADL Michigan said on its Facebook page. "We are in close touch with the Jewish community and law enforcement to investigate this vandalism."

The synagogue contacted the group as well as Grand Rapids police about the incident.

"There were no other words or symbols painted that would clearly indicate that it was an anti-semitic attack," the members said. "It may just have been opportunistic vandalism against a cemetery which is isolated and hard to see from the road, on Halloween weekend, not an attack against the Jewish community. We don’t know."

"MAGA" appears scrawled on two headstones.

As many as six headstones in the cemetery on Garfield were targeted, said Sgt. Dan Adams, public information officer for the Grand Rapids Police Department.

"It is unknown when it occurred and there is no suspect information at this time," he told The News.

Grand Rapids Police Sgt. John Wittkowski said no arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning and the investigation continues.

The Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus noted the incident came just before the president’s final campaign rally in Kent County.

“This attack on our Jewish community in Grand Rapids speaks volumes about the choice confronting our country in tomorrow’s election," said Cary Fleischer, the Grand Rapids regional chair of the caucus, in a statement. "It is long past time to elect leaders who care about the communities they serve, who will defend the rule of law and stand up to hatred and violent extremism — not stoke its flames.”

Representatives with Trump's campaign could not immediately be reached for comment Monday night.

Associated Press contributed

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