Over £40,000 worth of damage has been caused to 14 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester, with Manchester Police describing the act as “targeted … anti-Semitism.” Police officers were called to Blackley Jewish Cemetery on Rochdale Road, Manchester at 3:45 PM, after a member of public reported the desecration, and officially recorded the attack as a hate crime.
“I think this is mindless vandalism. I just don’t think they understand the unnecessary distress they cause to the families of these departed loved ones… they need to find better things to do and make a more useful contribution to society than rampaging cemeteries,” said Stephen Wilson, the administrator for the North Manchester Jewish Cemeteries Trust.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has increased patrols in the area and is appealing for witnesses. Wasim Chaudhry, Chief Superintendent for GMP’s North Manchester Division said: “This is a sickening act of criminal damage which we are taking very seriously. I believe this was a deliberate and targeted attack and there is no place for such abhorrent behaviour in our communities.
“All decent members of the public recognise that a cemetery is supposed to be a resting place for people who have passed away; a place of sanctity and dignity where families can come and pay their respects.”
Tony Lloyd, the Mayor and Police Commissioner of Greater Manchester critized the vandalism, adding: “This is a disgusting act of vandalism that will cause anguish, fear and anger among our communities, and could lead to serious divisions within our neighbourhoods.
“I am pleased that Greater Manchester Police has responded so quickly to this incident and correctly identified this abhorrent desecration as a hate crime.
“We’re in contact with the Community Security Trust – an organisation that protects British Jews from antisemitism [sic] and related threats – and I want to reassure them, and our Jewish community, that such deplorable behaviour will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester.”
In 2015, two teenagers were arrested after attack a Jewish teenager, forcing doctors to put the man in a medically-induced coma. In total four Jewish males were attacked by a group of three men as they waited at the Bowker Vale Metrolink stop in the Crumpsall area of North Manchester on the 5th September. The attack happened shortly before it was revealed that crimes against London’s Jewish community increased by 93.4% over the previous 12 months.