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Missouri man who fell more than 100 tombstones at the Jewish cemetery gets probation

A Missouri man was sentenced Thursday on vandalism charges after throwing more than 100 tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in 2017.
(KTVI)

A Missouri man was sentenced to three years of probation Thursday for the overthrow of more than 100 tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in St. Louis in February 2017, which resulted in an amount of $30,000 of damage.

Alzado Harris, 35, of Northwoods, was also ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution after admitting to the police that he was drunk, on drugs and angry at a friend, when he knocked in the course of about 120 tombstones in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, approximately 9 miles west of St. Louis.

Vice-President Pence visited the cemetery shortly after the crime happened at a time when Jewish organizations throughout the country were receiving bomb threats, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

Prosecutors said Thursday there is no evidence that suggests Harris’ actions were anti-Semitic in nature. Statistics released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sued for almost 60 percent rise in anti-semitism in the United States in 2017.

FIFTY-NINE GRAVESTONES DESTROYED IN MASSACHUSETTS JEWISH CEMETERY

“There is no evidence to indicate the incident was racially, ethnically, or religiously motivated,” University City police said in a statement shortly after Harris’ arrest in 2017. Harris was linked to the crime through DNA found on a discarded jacket. The DNA matches a sample of Harris provided in the investigation of another burglary.

Harris, who was found guilty of the crime of institutional vandalism, was not responsible for the prejudice or hate crime. Other than the probation and paying a fine, he must also work full-time, an anger management course, and no contact with the victim, according to court records.

The number of anti-Semitic attacks, including physical attacks, vandalism and attacks on Jewish institutions, increased by 57 percent from 2016 to 2017, the ADL reported. The ADL, which is an international Jewish non-governmental organization, based in the U.S., cited 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in the country in 2017, compared to 1,267 incidents in 2016.

Eric Greitens, who is Jewish and was the governor of Missouri at the time of the incident, the time spent volunteering with members of his staff, Chesed Shel Emeth cleaning of the damaged gravestones. The local Jewish Federation also donated $250,000 for upgrading security measures, such as cameras, lighting, and higher screens at Chesed Shel Emeth and other Jewish cemeteries in the area.

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Activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi raised more than $162,000 by means of a crowdfunding campaign that contributed to the damage repairs at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, two other battered AMERICAN Jewish cemeteries and a synagogue was destroyed, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery was rededicated in August 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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