Governor calls for state police investigation

ROCHESTER — Headstones at a local Jewish cemetery were recently knocked over. The headstones were damaged at the Stone Road Cemetery, located on Stonewood Avenue.

The manager of the cemetery says they're not considering the vandalism a hate crime, but they're also not ruling it out. Whatever happened there, they say it's unconscionable.

"There's no evidence of desecration, which leads us to believe that it was just a random act of violence, random act of vandalism," says Michael Phillips, president of Britton Road Association. "The only thing we saw was someone's glove on the ground that may have been one of the perpetrators that lost a glove."

Sixteen headstones were toppled over at the Stone Road cemetery. The manager of the property says it happened sometime Tuesday night and was discovered on Wednesday.

"It's almost not even a hate crime," says Phillips. "It's almost just an act that's unconscionable when you're a younger person and you think about your parents, and would you like them doing that to you? I don't even think that goes through their mind."

Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, announced Thursday he's directing the New York State Police to launch a full investigation into what happened.

"New York has zero tolerance for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we will always stand united in the face of anti-Semitism and divisiveness," the governor stated. "It is repugnant to everything we believe as New Yorkers, and we will continue to do everything in our power to bring to justice those responsible for these cowardly attacks on the values we hold dear."

The manager of the cemetery says putting the headstones back upright will be no easy task. Some of the bigger stones can weigh over a ton.

Rochester police are also investigating.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester condemned the vandalism in a statement.

"... Regardless of intention, this act is unacceptable and must be treated as a crime motivated by anti-Semitism. In the past month alone, there have been more than 180 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide," the statement reads. "We are deeply disturbed by rising acts of anti-Semitism across the country, including bomb threats made to Jewish community centers, Jewish day schools, and synagogues. We encourage our elected officials to continue to denounce publicly these actions and call on local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and swiftly bring the perpetrators to account."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA also released a statement.

“This rise in anti-Semitic language and behavior is very concerning. Members from our Rochester chapter are in route to assist in any way,” stated Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, national vice president for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. “We call on all Americans to stand united against this hatred and extremism."