Federal authorities are investigating whether the vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia over the weekend was a hate crime.
The FBI said in a statement Monday that it has opened a civil rights investigation into the late Saturday desecration at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. Police said more than 100 tombstones at the burial ground were toppled over, including some that were cracked in half.
The FBI’s Philadelphia field and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are part of the probe. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence,” the agency said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”
The vandalism in Philadelphia came days after a similar attack was carried out at a historic Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.
The Philadelphia Police Department on Monday called the cemetery desecration in its city an “abominable crime that appears to target these particular headstones,” but said “we must allow the investigation to take its course before we can determine a specific motive or label as a particular type of crime.”