Vandals spray paint ‘MAGA’ and ‘TRUMP’ on Jewish headstones

Author: The Associated Press
Published: Updated:
Headstones defaced with red spray painted words “Trump” and “MAGA” in Ahavas Achim Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are seen on November 2, 2020 — the day before Election Day. Credit: WWMT-TV/ADL MICHIGAN

Police are investigating vandalism that left several headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids spray-painted with “TRUMP” and “MAGA” before President Donald Trump held his final campaign rally in the western Michigan city.

Grand Rapids police officers on Monday found six headstones spray-painted with red paint at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery.

The vandalism appeared to be “relatively new,” with “TRUMP” spray-painted on the back of four headstones, and “MAGA” — an acronym for the Trump campaign slogan Make America Great Again — spray-painted on two others, Sgt. John Wittkowski, a spokesman for the city’s police department, said in a statement.

The vandalized graves were discovered hours before Trump visited Grand Rapids late Monday night in his final campaign rally before Election Day. Police said no evidence was left at the scene.

Wittkowski said the Grand Rapids Police Department had made no arrests or identified any suspects in the vandalism as of Tuesday morning.

The Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus said in a statement Monday that it was outraged by “the desecration,” and said the vandalism just before Election Day was intended “to send an intimidating message to the president’s opponents, and particularly, Jewish voters.”

“But it has failed. Grand Rapids’ Jewish community will not be cowed by this vile attack on Ahavas Israel,” the caucus said in its statement.

The Anti-Defamation League of Michigan said it was working with local law enforcement to investigate the vandalized graves and that it was “appalled by the reported desecration.”

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for federal authorities to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime and said it was offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

“The sacred sites of people of faith must be protected from vandalism that is meant to spread fear and intimidation,” the Michigan chapter’s executive director, Dawud Walid, said in a statement.

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