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Gravestones vandalized at Jewish cemetery in Fall River; anti-Semitic graffiti found

Fall River police investigated vandalized gravestones at the Hebrew Cemetery.
Fall River police investigated vandalized gravestones at the Hebrew Cemetery.Barry Chin/Globe staff/Globe Staff

Police are trying to figure out who vandalized approximately 25 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Fall River.

Fall River police Sergeant J.T. Hoar said the vandalism at the Hebrew Cemetery on McMahon Street was discovered by a groundskeeper who reported it to police Sunday afternoon.

“He called us at about 1:30,” Hoar said.

Police said approximately 25 gravestones were defaced with anti-Semitic phrases and drawings of swastikas, and others were knocked over.

Someone wrote “ethnic cleansing” on one of the stones, Hoar said.

“It looks like the primary tool for the damage was a black magic marker,” he said. “A couple of the stones had been pushed over.”

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As of Tuesday morning, no arrests had been made.

“Right now it’s still an open investigation,” he said.

The Fall River Police Department is offering a reward to anyone that provides information that leads to the apprehension of the suspect or suspects. Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Fall River Police Department’s major crimes division at 508-324-2796 or the anonymous tip line at 508-672-8477.

In addition to the reward offered by police, the Anti-Defamation League of New England is also offering a $1,500 reward, according to police.

In a tweet, ADL New England described the vandalism as an “inexcusable act of #AntiSemitic hatred.”

“This apparent targeted attack impacts all corners of the community,” the tweet stated.“We are grateful for the priority this apparent hate crime is being given by @FallRiverPD.”

Laurence K. Richmond, president of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, also spoke out about the incident.

“In accordance with our mission, we stand by the Fall River Jewish Community and view this recent incident as another reminder that we all need to be vigilant and proactive in fighting hate,” he said in a statement. “We are confident the investigation is in good and experienced hands with local law enforcement and although this is not one of our cemeteries, we are available to provide any assistance if needed by law enforcement or the victims of this senseless act.”

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Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.