Southern Brooklyn

Nelson Offers Reward To Capture Cemetery Vandals

Washington Cemetery (Source: adamsofen via Flickr) - Mike Nelson (Source:

From Councilman Michael Nelson’s office:

Council Member Michael C. Nelson, Chairman of the City Council Jewish Caucus, is outraged over the apparent anti-Semitic vandalism that occurred at Washington Cemetery this past weekend.  The cemetery is Brooklyn’s largest Jewish cemetery, and has been the final resting place for the Brooklyn Jewish community for almost 150 years.  Between 100 and 200 gravestones of Jews, many of which memorialized recent Russian Jewish immigrants and Holocaust survivors, were knocked over and destroyed beyond repair.

Although the police have just begun their investigation, Councilman Nelson implores the NYPD to classify this incident as a hate crime.  “It is obvious that the targets were the deceased Jewish individuals buried in this cemetery and their families who now have to deal with more heartbreak after saying goodbye and burying their loved ones,” said Councilman Nelson.  “As an elected official representing a district with a large Russian and Jewish population, I strongly condemn this and will work with the police to bring the perpetrators who committed these unspeakable and unholy acts to justice and make it known that these actions are not tolerated.”

In an effort to aid the police in their investigation, Councilman Nelson is offering a $1000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of these criminals.  Moreover, Councilman Nelson is disturbed over the fact that the families are responsible for replacing the gravestones of their loved ones.  The councilman is calling upon Washington Cemetery to sit down with the families and discuss some form of financial compensation and will seek possible legislation if needed.

“Having chosen Washington Cemetery as the final resting place for their loved ones, the families of the deceased are entrusting the safety and security of the burial ground to the owners and caretakers of the cemetery,” explained Councilman Nelson.  “Therefore, area security should be provided and the cemetery should have insurance for incidents like this.  It is absurd to have the families bear the full cost of replacing the gravestones.”

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  1. Doesn’t the cemetery have some sort of insurance policy that would cover vandalism?

    I know we own a few headstones and graves at various cemeteries, I wonder if the same thing happened to them if we’d be responsible. Time to make some phone calls!

  2. Thank you Councilman Nelson. I assumed that the “perpetual care” contracts would have covered this.

    I just called the cemeteries where we have loved ones and was told the same thing. If vandalism occurs and the stone is damaged – or the grave disturbed – the grave owner is responsible to cover the cost of the repair.

    The cemeteries did recommend checking with your homeowners insurance as this is usually covered by that policy.

  3. Perhaps the same councilman could look into how much it costs to be buried at this cenetary and why, for that amount of money it lacks better security, like cameras, or a barbed wire or maybe a random drive-throughs. I have family members who are buries there and altough nothing happened to their graves, there can always be a next time.

  4. Disagree with Nelson that this is an *obviously* a bias crime. Unless there’s a news report I missed, he has no way of knowing that. The report from The Jewish Week leaves it up in the air – it noted that the graffiti was not anti-Semitic, while noting it was the Hate Crimes task force that was investigating. There’s plenty of punk-ass grave vandals out there that will vandalize whatever is close and/or poorly secured, whether it’s Jewish or not. Of course, there’s plenty of punk-ass people out there that hate Jews, too – see Councilman, this is why we investigate.

  5. Really? That’s interesting – I’d have thought that if a cemetery was in the burying-people business, it would be responsible for protecting the graves and markers on its premises and owning up when it failed at its protection mission.

  6. They did tell me that they do have 24 hour security, but that ” in the unlikely case” something did happen, I’d be responsible.

  7. I’d be afraid of enraging the spirits.

    When I was younger I believed in ghosts actually hung around graveyards. I really thought we could make contact with them there.

    But there is indeed weird energy in graveyards.

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