‘Desecrated': Boston Officials, Community Leaders Decry Holocaust Memorial Vandalism

"The wounds from the last time this memorial was broken are still fresh," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday afternoon while standing in front of the New England Holocaust Memorial

City and community leaders are speaking out after the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer.

"The wounds from the last time this memorial was broken just six weeks ago are still very fresh," Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday afternoon while standing outside of the memorial with other Boston and faith leaders. "We don't know exactly what the motives are, but we are worrisome that this is a resurgence of hatred that we're seeing today in this country."

A 17-year-old Malden boy was arrested Monday night after he was seen throwing a rock that shattered one of the memorial's glass panels. He was detained by two bystanders - an off-duty Drug Enforcement Administration agent and an off-duty Boston firefighter - until police arrived.

The teen appeared in juvenile court Tuesday and was charged with willful and malicious destruction of property and causing injury to a church, synagogue or memorial. He was released on his own recognizance with orders to stay away from the memorial and comply with mental health guidance. 

His attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The police department's civil rights unit also is investigating to determine if additional charges are warranted. 

Police said another suspect faces a vandalism charge after damaging flowers placed at the memorial on Tuesday morning. They said 37-year-old Said Bouzit was arraigned Tuesday. His lawyer said he has no comment.

This week's vandalism came just days after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman was killed when a man plowed a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, and dozens more were injured, prompting a federal civil rights investigation; two Virginia State Police troopers were also killed when their helicopter that was flying over the chaos crashed.

This is the second time the New England Holocaust Memorial has been damaged in the past few months.

In June, police said James Isaac used a rock to shatter a roughly 9-foot-tall glass panel on one of the memorial's six 54-foot-high towers. Isaac has pleaded not guilty to vandalism charges. 

The six glass towers are lit internally and etched with millions of numbers that represent tattoos on the arms of many Jews sent to Nazi death camps. 

"It's almost shocking to us that we are back here six weeks later," said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. "It's shocking to us to be here after the events of this last weekend in Virginia. Here we are again, for the second time this summer, the New England Holocaust Memorial has been desecrated after 22 years of being untouched."

The repaired memorial was rededicated in July. 

The Jewish Community Relations Council and Combined Jewish Philanthropies said they are still assessing the damage and working on a timeline for rebuilding the memorial.

The memorial is now back open and a constant flow of people stopped by on Tuesday to see the damage.

"I just don't know why someone would do that," said Ansley Washburn of Brookline. "I just, I just didn't know what could bring someone to do something like that. I don't know what these innocent people could have done."

"It is sad. I think it is very, very sad that there are people who still do that and don't believe in the good of people," added Sarah Greenberg, who is visiting from Israel.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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