Gov. Pritzker and other leaders are condemning the vandalism that left swastikas spray-painted on headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Waukegan as public works crews worked to remove the graffiti Tuesday.
The Waukegan Police Department responded around 8 a.m. Monday to Am Echod Jewish Cemetery, 3050 Grand Avenue in Waukegan, for a report of criminal damage to property.
Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Joe Florip said officers arrived to find numerous headstones that had been vandalized.
The Waukegan Police Department Criminal Investigation Division was called to the scene to investigate.
Officers located 16 large headstones that had been defaced with large red spray-painted swastikas, Florip said.
Officers also located 23 other headstones that had been defaced with red spray-painted graffiti.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he condemns this “evil act” and offered the state’s full support in finding those responsible.
“Officials at Illinois State Police are in communication with city leaders,” Pritzker said.
Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor said she was “deeply disturbed” and angered about the hateful imagery.
“Hate does not have a home in Waukegan; when such incidents occur, our marginalized neighbors are victimized, and our entire community suffers,” Taylor said.
“I hope our officers promptly locate the perpetrators of this despicable act and hold them accountable, and I offer my full support to those directly impacted by this vandalism,” she added.
Waukegan Public Works said they offered assistance to Am Echod Cemetery to assist with the removal of the spray paint.
Crews were on site Tuesday power washing the paint off the headstones.
“The City stepped up to help and works hard to fight this kind of hatred. Thank you to our crews who worked to repair the graves – and the faith in people – of those whose families suffered the vandalism,” the Waukegan Public Works said.
Council On American Islamic Relations-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said their organization condemns “this despicable act of hatred.”
“To desecrate the memory of the dead with a symbol that not too long ago brought about the senseless murder of millions of Jews is not just an affront to Jews, living and dead, but to all people of good conscience. For never again to be never again, we cannot allow our Jewish neighbors to stand alone in such moments,” Rehab said.
Florip said the case is considered open and active. No arrests have been announced yet.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Waukegan Police Department’s tip line at 847-360-9001.