Teens charged in anti-Semitic vandalism in Rockville, Potomac -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected at 1:45 p.m. on May 14, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

Montgomery County police have charged two teens in connection with anti-Semitic graffiti in Potomac and Rockville.

Chief J. Thomas Manger said the boys — one 16 years old, the other 17 years old — were arrested Thursday and have since been released to the custody of their parents. The hate incidents were reported between April 18 and 21 at:

• Montgomery Child Care, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Potomac — a swastika and “All Jews Burn” were drawn on two buses.

• Young Israel of Potomac, 11618 Seven Locks Road, Potomac — a swastika was drawn on the synagogue sign.

• the 11100 block of Old Coach Road, Rockville — “SS” and a swastika were drawn on the windshield of a vehicle.

Manger said evidence from surveillance videos and work by local police school resource officers linked the teens to the acts.

They were arrested on 16 charges apiece, including hate crimes and malicious destruction of property, according to Sgt. Ruben Rosario. The 16 charges include the three alleged hate crimes, plus other acts of vandalism in Potomac and Rockville in April.

The youths were not charged as adults, but Manger said such charges were still a possibility.

Police did not provide the names of the youths because they had not been charged as adults. The Gazette generally does not name juveniles unless they have been charged as adults.

Montgomery County officials said they were troubled that youths could be associated with hate crimes.

“I thought we were better than this,” Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett told reporters outside police headquarters Friday.

In a statement submitted to police, Rabbi Yosef Singer of Congregation Young Israel Ezeras Israel of Potomac thanked police for apprehending the alleged vandals. He said the quick response showed that “acts of hatred would not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery County’s interfaith community is standing in solidarity with the congregation.

“Hate crimes are on the rise in this country,” said Hedieh Mirahmadi, founder of the Montgomery Village-based International Cultural Center. “We didn’t think it would affect us here in Montgomery County, but obviously it is. It’s something we have to take seriously.”

The Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, the interfaith community liaison for the county’s Office of Community Partnerships, said he hopes the incident could be an educational moment.

“We would hope and pray that while the letter of the law is being enforced the way it needs to be, that there would be an opportunity for them to come to know the depth of the hurt and pain they have brought not just upon Rabbi Singer and his congregation, but upon us all,” Kaseman said. “Because for us in Montgomery County, any injustice, any place is an injustice to all of us.”

tarnold@gazette.net

An earlier version of this story had an incorrect age for one of the boys who were arrested.