The toppling of more than 40 headstones in a predominantly Jewish cemetery wasn't part of a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, police say. Instead, the NYPD says the 42 headstones at Brooklyn's Washington Cemetery fell down by themselves because of a combination of factors, including neglect and soil erosion, the AP reports. The cemetery's manager says that when a stone can't be reset, they "lay them across the grave to keep them memorialized," which a concerned community member apparently mistook for vandalism.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, however, tells the New York Daily News that he believes some of the newer headstones really were knocked down and he wants an investigation. He says the police commissioner and a hate crime task force are taking reports of cemetery damage very seriously. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a statewide investigation after tombstones were toppled and defaced at a cemetery in Rochester. (Federal officials say a bitter ex-boyfriend threatened Jewish community centers across the country in a campaign to harass his ex.)