CRIME
05/26/2018 06:39 pm ET

Hundreds Of Swastikas Spray-Painted In Illinois Cemetery

Police arrested a 34-year-old white man who may be linked to the crime.

Residents of a western Illinois town awoke Saturday morning to find hundreds of swastikas spray-painted around a cemetery.

An estimated 200 headstones, two family mausoleums and another structure in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Glen Carbon were tagged with the hate symbol, a cemetery employee told HuffPost.

“It’s just unfortunate that they’re doing it this time of year, because it’s Memorial Day. That’s a special day for us,” the superintendent, Mark Johnson, told the News-Democrat.

Law enforcement arrested a 34-year-old white male as part of their investigation, the Edwardsville Police Department announced over Facebook late Saturday afternoon.

The Glen Carbon Police Department, which is leading the investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Like many American cemeteries, Sunset Hills has held annual Memorial Day services for former members of the military interred there. At Sunset Hills, they number more than 1,600, an employee told HuffPost.

The cemetery still plans to hold its Memorial Day service.

Police believe the vandalism occurred between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. local time, according to Fox2Now, a local affiliate.

Cemetery staff were photographed power-washing the gravestones by Saturday afternoon, and Fox2Now reported they plan to work until everything is cleaned up.

Glen Carbon is located about 20 miles east of St. Louis. 

The Anti-Defamation League is concerned about a possible rise in hate crimes across the country. A February report by the group showed a 60 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents between 2016 and 2017 ― the second-highest percentage the ADL has found since the 1970s.

In a 2016 St. Louis Public Radio interview on hate and white supremacy in the region, Washington University sociology professor David Cunningham, who studies hate groups, noted that the Council of Conservative Citizens is headquartered in St. Louis. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the council a white supremacist group.

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