MELROSE (CBS) — Melrose police are looking for three young men who are suspected of tipping over headstones in a local cemetery.
The vandalism took place at the Netherlands Cemetery, a cemetery established by Boston area residents of Dutch-Jewish ancestry in 1859.
A witness told police he saw three young men in the cemetery at about 3 a.m. kicking over the headstones.
The witness said that one of the young men was a white male, about 5-foot-7 inches tall, wearing a black “hoodie.” A second teenager was black, also about 5-foot-7 with a grey hooded sweatshirt. The witness says those two ran away down Linwood Avenue. The witness said a third young was “heavy-set” with a black t-shirt and glasses.
Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan says the actions of the suspected vandals are hateful.
“I am deeply saddened and outraged by this vandalism and potential hate crime,” Mayor Dolan said. “Cemeteries are sacred grounds. Any malicious destruction is deeply saddening and must be given the full attention of law enforcement to bring the individuals responsible to account for this horrible act. On behalf of the citizens of Melrose, we offer our deepest sympathies to the Netherlands Cemetery Association, the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts and the individual families affected by this cowardly act.”
Police Chief Michael Lyle agrees.
“To go to a sacred place in the city and act with such disrespect is disgraceful and these three suspects should be ashamed of themselves,” Lyle said.
And he’s asking for the public’s help in catching the suspects.
“If anyone saw or heard anything early this morning in the area of the cemetery, we ask that you immediately contact police.” Lyle also said.
Melrose Human Rights Commission Director Adam LaFrance says the city condemns the act.
“Melrose is one community, open to all. The Melrose Human Rights Commission and the City of Melrose denounce the recent desecration of tombstones at the Jewish cemetery on Linwood Avenue and stand firmly with our Jewish family, friends and neighbors against this reprehensible behavior,” LaFrance said.
LaFrance adds that this is another in a sadly growing number of hateful acts of vandalism in the area.
“It is the latest in a string of such petty vandalism in the region and a concerning incident here in Melrose. The Commission supports the efforts of the Melrose Police Department to investigate thoroughly the incident and those involved. We encourage all residents to report such acts and to work to cultivate a community of mutual understanding and respect,” LaFrance said.