CRYSTAL, Minn. (WCCO) – Police are searching for the people who damaged several dozen gravestones at the Adath Chesed Shel Esmes Cemetery in Crystal.
Caretakers found 32 damaged markers, with some knocked over, and others moved to other locations in the cemetery.
“I think it is joy seekers or mischief makers and this is what they use as their target,” said Michael Morris, the cemetery superintendent. “It’s really an attack against common decency and human dignity and somewhat against the Jewish community, although this kind of thing happens in all cemeteries – Jewish, Lutheran Catholic.”
The cemetery is located near 36th Avenue and Winnetka Avenue in Crystal, and police believe the damaged occurred from April 28-30.
Morris said the damage occurred in the oldest part of the cemetery, with many of the graves belonging to the founders of theMinneapolis Jewish community. He said the families can no longer be traced, and several of the damaged headstones were graves belonging to young children.
“Do they realize these were the graves of small children that at the turn of the century died from childhood diseases? No, not really, but it’s really troubling,” said Morris.
Especially for Dave Hill, who discovered some of the damage near his grandfather’s grave.
“I went over there and tried to pick a few up, and I’m a pretty big guy. I can pick up just about anything, but some of the stones weighted 800 to 900 pounds so it had to be more than a few kids turning them over,” said Hill.
CrystalPolice want to hear from anyone with information. Morris said that may be tough. He said the cemetery was hit by vandals in 2003, with an estimated 180 gravestones damaged, and that case is still unsolved as well.
“This is sacred work we do out here, we are trying to protect the identities of these people and protect them in perpetuity,” said Morris, who calls this a crime against history and tradition, an act of vandalism hurting many victims.
“It’s not so much dealing with the physical damage, the cost of the physical damage, but emotional damage,” said Morris.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Crystal police at (763) 525-6215.