Man Arrested in Miami for Vandalizing Synagogue
In Miami Beach, Florida earlier this month, a synagogue was targeted by a vandal. Less than 24 hours after the crime, police managed to arrest a suspect. This was the second act of vandalism in the Miami-Dade County area in two days.
According to police, Maximo De La Cruz-De Jesus, 43, was captured by surveillance video as approaching the front of Temple Emanu-El after going up its steps at 2:55 AM on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. The synagogue is located at Washington Avenue and 17th Street. A few minutes after De Jesus approached the front of the building, a security guard from a neighboring restaurant appeared with a flashlight and confronted him. De Jesus merely walked away.
Hours later, the police were contacted and came to see that a swastika, “KKK” and a skull had been scrawled onto a banner on the entrance of the building. It was subsequently removed.
That Wednesday morning, De Jesus appeared before a bond court judge and had a bond of $5,000 set against him. In addition, the defendant was ordered to see a doctor as his lawyer had revealed that is is both schizophrenic and suffers from bipolar disorder. The judge also ordered him to have no contact with Temple Emanu-El and told him not to go there anymore.
The restaurant security guard who had caught De Jesus in front of the synagogue assisted the police in picking him out of a photo lineup. Miami Beach Chief of Police Dan Oates stated that it was disruptive to the community, that people needed to be reassured and that he was glad they caught the vandal.
Rabbi Marc Phillippe of Temple Emanu-El declared the act offensive and filled with hatred. He went on to reveal that two weeks prior to this incident, there was a letter filled with hatred left in the restrooms. However, the authorities didn’t deem it too serious and had not investigated it. Phillippe pointed out that this was obviously something serious considering the vandalism filled with hate left on the front of the synagogue two weeks later.
The Florida Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Hava Holzhauer, believes there has been an increase of anti-Semitism in the state due to the tensions in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. Other places in Miami-Dade County have also been targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti. Recently, a swastika and “KKK” was spray painted near a Publix supermarket and a swastika was spray painted on the ground outside a park.
The police were able to identify De Jesus as the person responsible for the hate filled vandalism at Temple Emanu-El because he had left a fingerprint on the banner. De Jesus, a homeless man, has been charged with criminal mischief. Detective Vivian Thayer stated that this type of behavior is not tolerated in Miami Beach and that it will be taken seriously.
If you have been arrested for a similar crime, you will need the help of a skilled Fort Lauderdale hate crime attorney. Kenneth Hassett and his law firm, Hassett and Associates, P.A. are highly qualified in the area of hate crimes and vandalism and will defend you to the best of their abilities. Contact their offices to speak with a Fort Lauderdale vandalism lawyer at your earliest convenience.