Two Bedford residents who spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti on several properties throughout the town two weeks ago will have the option to participate in diversion programs rather than face criminal charges, officials announced Wednesday.
On April 4, officers responded to a report of graffiti on a private business on Great Road, according to a joint statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno. The graffiti depicted “a swastika, male genitalia, and anti-Semitic and lewd language.” Officers later received reports of graffiti on the Bedford Department of Public Works storage garage in the Shawsheen Cemetery, two other private businesses, and on a bridge wall on Great Road.
Using surveillance footage, officers were able to identify the suspects, officials said. After speaking with community members, property owners, and local faith leaders, the district attorney’s office and police determined not to pursue criminal charges for the individuals.
Instead, the individuals have the option to complete the district attorney’s Juvenile and Young Adult Diversion Program, which includes participating in Communities for Restorative Justice, officials said. If either of the individuals fails to complete the requirements of their program, they could face vandalism charges.
“Our diversion program seeks to educate and rehabilitate and it is our expectation that diversion will allow the perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions and, having gained an understanding of the harm that they caused, change their behavior in the future,” Ryan said.
“We support the use of diversion in this case and look forward to participating in this process to educate both the offenders and the community in a way that will shine a light on the impacts hateful speech can have on the everyday lives of our friends and neighbors,” said Bedford resident and Rabbi Susan Abramson, of Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington. “We hope that this incident highlights the need for us to remain vigilant and engaged in our communities so that we can work towards permanently eradicating these types of incidents from our wonderful community.”
Bedford police and the district attorney’s office investigated the crimes, the statement said.
Matt Berg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.