A man described as a neo-Nazi by police was charged with vandalizing a Chicago-area Jewish cemetery.
Mariusz Wdziekonski, 21, was arraigned Saturday on charges ranging from criminal damage to property to a felony hate crime, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Last month Wdziekonski, a Polish immigrant who has lived in the United States for four years, is alleged to have painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs on 57 headstones in the Westlawn Cemetery. Police say Wdziekonski has acknowledged being a member of the neo-Nazi organization known as NSM 88.
The Anti-Defamation League welcomed the arrest and lauded the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
“The Sheriff’s Department deserves high praise for its handling of this deplorable anti-Semitic incident, which is a hate crime against the entire community,” said Lonnie Nasatir, the ADL’s Chicago regional director. “The Sheriff’s Office took the graffiti seriously from the moment it was discovered, and we are grateful to Sheriff Tom Dart for his leadership in investigating this incident effectively and professionally.”
Also on Saturday in Chicago, a 52-year-old man was charged with a hate crime after using an anti-Semitic slur while threatening a man with an ice pick, the Sun-Times reported. Louis Ranger’s criminal record includes a 1994 conviction on a hate crime.