Hate crime investigation launched after Manchester cemetery desecrated
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Hate crime investigation launched after Manchester cemetery desecrated

Shocking images show a grave smashed and windows broken at cemetery in Prestwich, as police try to find the perpetrators

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Smashed grave at Jewish cemetery in Prestwich (Shmuli Brown)
Smashed grave at Jewish cemetery in Prestwich (Shmuli Brown)

Police in Manchester have launched an investigation into the desecration of a Jewish cemetery over the weekend, and it’s being treated as a ”hate crime’.

Vandals who smashed a Jewish grave have been branded a “a complete disgrace to humanity”, as community leaders condemned the attack.

Shocking images show the smashed grave (Ohel) and windows at a Jewish cemetery in Whitefield, Prestwich, north Manchester, which was vandalised over the weekend.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police said it is being treating it as a hate crime. They were called on Saturday night after reports it had been vandalised between midday on Friday and early morning on Saturday.

“Officers attended and found that three separate chapels within the cemetery had been damaged – including a prominent headstone.

Two windows were smashed along with a number of sinks and CCTV was also stolen from within one of the chapels.”

Superintendent Paul Walker, of GMP’s Bury division, said: “We have launched an investigation and whilst the CCTV has been destroyed by the offenders – clearly in an attempt to cover their tracks – I can assure you that we have a team of dedicated officers working to piece together exactly what happened in an attempt to find those responsible.

“I understand that this incident will have caused distress to many members of our community and we are working alongside our partners including Community Security Trust to ensure that those affected are fully supported.

“We are treating this incident as a hate crime and I want to send a clear message that incidents of this nature will never be tolerated in our communities. I would encourage anyone with any information to get in touch as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 8172 quoting incident number 2282 of 09/02/2019, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Greater Manchester Police Prestwich tweeted in the aftermath of the incident: “I hope the scumbags who desecrated a graveyard in Whitefield are proud! You are a complete disgrace to humanity! This is not what the community of Whitefield are about or accept. Anyone with info particularly about anyone trying to offload copper piping should contact us.”

Shmuli Brown posted the devastating images on Saturday night, saying: “These cowards picking on the dead trashed the place.” His tweet was retweeted more than 2,500 times, including by Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

He added later, “they stole the sinks, pipe work and opened up one tombstone with the hopes of finding a treasure.”

Jim Jones, Strategic Partnership Inspector for Greater Manchester Police in the borough of Bury wrote on Twitter: “I am ashamed to think these people live amongst us. Having spent the week promoting hate crime awareness and been so welcomed by the Jewish community at local events it feels like we have let them down. We will always come back stronger and better together”.

Smashed windows at the cemetery

Bury MP Ivan Lewis said: “The attack on Whitefield Ohel is an absolute disgrace. Made worse by the fact the desecration took place on the Jewish Shabbos. Anyone with information about the culprits should contact Gtr Mcr Police immediately. Those responsible must feel the full force of the law.

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust said:  “Members of CST’s Northern Office team attended Whitefield Cemetery on Saturday night and saw the extent of the damage. We are now working with Police and hope that those responsible can be found and brought to justice.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: ‘I utterly condemn this wicked act of vandalism. I wish the Greater Manchester Police every success in bringing these yobs to justice.’
Following the vandalism, a crowdfunding page was launched to repair the damage, especially to the smashed smashed grave, thought to be that of leading Rabbi, “The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva”. So far £8,000 has been raised in under 24 hours.
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