16-Year-Olds Charged With Hate Crimes for Anti-Jewish Graffiti

Two high school students from Potomac, Maryland are facing hate crime charges after spray-painting a synagogue and buses used by a child-care center with graffiti targeting Jews.

The spray-painted messages were so ugly that the chief of police wouldn't read them out loud as he announced the arrests Friday.

"It was as hurtful and hateful as you can imagine," said Police Chief Thomas Manger.

The two, both 16, have been charged with committing hate crimes, and may face other charges.

The teens were recognized on surveillance video by a school resource officer.

Their names were not released, because they are juveniles -- but the state's attorney could decide to charge them as adults.

Police also are investigating whether the two are connected to other acts of vandalism in the county.


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Throughout April there were about 20 separate attacks of vandalism in Potomac. But only three, along Seven Locks Road, were considered hate crimes.

One was a swastika painted on a sign outside the synagogue. Another was the painting of the buses used by a child care center on Seven Locks Road, which is run by Montgomery County. A private home also was targeted.

"It's just horrible," said Hedieh Mirahmadi, of the International Cultural Center in Montgomery Village, Maryland. "It makes you wonder, what are they learning at school, at home, on the internet that leads to this kind of behavior?"

County Executive Ike Leggett said he thought these kind of crimes were a thing of the past in Montgomery County.

"Unfortunately ... we still have work to do ahead of us," said County Executive Ike Leggett. "This kind of activity will not be tolerated. We are much better than this."

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