21 May 2010

Louisiana: Historic Jewish cemetery vandalized

In 1873, a Yellow Fever epidemic struck Shreveport, Louisiana.

In 2010, vandals struck the Jewish cemetery called Hebrew Rest where those Jewish epidemic victims and many other deceased individuals have been buried since.

According to an article in the Shreveport Times, the vandals could face hate crime charges resulting from the recent desecration of several historic graves in the Jewish section of Oakland Cemetery.

Nine headstones were overturned or broken.

Local historian Gary Joiner is working with a group of LSU-Shreveport students who are electronically cataloging the historic graveyard.

A student in the group called the desecration anti-Semitic, and said the cemetery was like a museum and the vandals destroyed history.

Fortunately, the group had already recorded those graves. A group of vandals is suspected, as the size of the stones would have made it difficult for one person to desecrate. Most of the stones date from the 1873 epidemic, which killed 25% of Shreveport's residents.

The police are working on the case. Those arrested will face a felony charge, and other penalties of up to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison or both.

For an exhaustive history of Jewish cemeteries in Shreveport, click here for the specific entry at the IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project. There are three Hebrew Rest sections (established 1858, 1886 and 1993). Earlier burials were in the non-sectarian Oakland Cemetery.

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