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Minneapolis Police Sets Up Special Unit to Act on Synagogue Vandalism

The Minneapolis Police Department is setting up a Community Protection Unit to handle such incidents as the recent smearing of swastikas on five Minneapolis synagogues, Mayor Arthur Naftal in announced today.

The new unit, said the Mayor and Police Chief E.I. Walling, was designed to enable the police to “deal as promptly and as effectively as possible with acts of vandalism and other types of assault which are aimed not against particular individuals but against the community itself.”

The Mayor said the recent vandalism, which included the University of Minnesota Hillel House, required prompt and effective police action “based on specialized information and appropriate techniques of investigation and apprehension.” Members of the new unit will receive special training in human and intergroup relations and in legal phases of protection of democratic processes, civil liberties and civil rights.

In another phase of the vandalism, the Minnesota Department of the Jewish War Veterans clashed with a St. Paul rabbi over the patrolling by JWV members of Jewish buildings in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. Rabbi Bernard S. Raskas, spiritual leader of the Temple of Aaron, said the patrolling constituted “making a mountain out of a molehill.” He argued that the JWV patrols implied that civil authorities “are not doing everything in their power to protect Jewish institutions,” and said this was contrary to fact.

Demanding a retraction, Samuel B. Lechtman, department commander, said that the organization “did cooperate with the Jewish Community Relations Council and did obtain the approval of the Minneapolis Police Department” before establishing the patrols. He added that the police had “commended” the JWV for its action and had described the patrols as “an effective deterrent to further swastika incidents.”

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