Pence condemns vandalism at Jewish cemetery, works to clean up

Pence deplored “this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms.”

Vice President Mike Pence condemned the vandalism at a St. Louis Jewish cemetery, where more than 150 headstones were damaged earlier in the week, and joined volunteers in cleaning up.

Speaking to small business owners at a business Wednesday in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton, Missouri, Pence deplored,”this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms.”

He lauded people from across Missouri who have “rallied with compassion and support.”

“You have inspired this nation,” Pence said, not long before making an unannounced visit to the cemetery.

With Eric Greitens, Missouri’s Jewish governor by his side, Pence told volunteers, many of them clutching yard rakes they used to beautify the graveyard, that, “There’s no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.”

“I must tell you, the people in Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri,” he told the crowd, using a bullhorn. “And I want to thank you for that inspiration, for showing the world what America is all about.”

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After hearing the recitation of  Psalms, Pence rolled up his sleeves, took a rake, and joined the cleaning and restoration efforts.

Greitens organized a volunteer effort to help in the cleanup Wednesday, and an interfaith service took place in the afternoon. A large crowd attended a candlelight vigil at the cemetery Tuesday night.

Greitens later told reporters at the cemetery that President Donald Trump had called him Wednesday morning and thanked the volunteers.

A group of Muslim activists have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in University City, Missouri, with a goal of $20,000. It has raised at least $75,000.

In the meantime, investigators have yet to determine who was responsible for the vandalism. Police said there is no evidence of a hate crime, but haven’t ruled out the possibility.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which was the target of an anti-Semitic bomb threat on Wednesday, offered a $10,000 reward for the vandals’ arrest and conviction.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff