Vandals charged with turning a Jewish family’s menorah decoration into a swastika

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Photo Courtesy of Naomi Ellis

Arizona police have arrested four suspects in an apparently anti-Semitic act of vandalism that made national headlines in December.

The Chandler Police Department says that a 19-year-old man and three younger boys were responsible for dismantling a Jewish family’s PVC pipe menorah and turning it into a swastika while the family slept.

The police department said Clive Jamar Wilson, 19, will face charges of criminal trespass and aggravated criminal damage for the destruction of the family’s yard decoration. Three boys, who were not named because they are under 18, face the same charges in juvenile court. Kevin Quinn, a police spokesman, said police are still investigating and have not determined whether to label the young men’s actions a hate crime.

Seth Ellis built the Hanukkah decoration in December for his sons, ages 5, 7 and 9, who said they wanted lights outside their house like their friends who celebrate Christmas. The seven-foot-tall menorah, made of $100 worth of PVC pipe and painted gold, stood outside until the sixth night of Hanukkah – when the Ellis family woke up to find that it had been twisted into a symbol of hate.

“They know about the Holocaust. They know about Nazis,” Naomi Ellis said of her three children. But her sons had never seen the Nazi symbol before, she said at the time. “This is the real reality that we live in: People hate us for no reason or want us to feel scared for who we are. That’s not something I wanted to have to tell them.”

(c) 2017, The Washington Post ยท Julie Zauzmer