Overturned New York Headstones Not Vandalism: Police

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Overturned New York Headstones Not Vandalism: Police

Vandals tumbled and defaced headstones at a Jewish cemetery in a Rochester, New York. (AFP)

New York:  Tombstones overturned in a Jewish cemetery in New York were the result of environmental damage and not vandalism, police said Sunday, amid a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

Officers were called to Washington Cemetery on Saturday evening and ordered an investigation to determine whether or not the incident was a hate crime, police said.

"Upon further investigation... it appears that the tombstones were toppled as a result of either long-term neglect, lack of maintenance or environmental factors," a spokesman later told AFP.

Recent weeks have seen scores of bomb threats against US Jewish organizations and at least three other Jewish cemeteries desecrated.

The Anti-Defamation League, a national civil rights group that tracks anti-Semitism, last week recorded 121 threats against Jewish institutions in 36 US states and two Canadian provinces since January 1, labeling the surge an "epidemic."

Some critics have blamed President Donald Trump's sometimes incendiary rhetoric and policies, which they say have stoked feelings of insularity and xenophobia.

Last month, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo promised a $25 million grant to boost security and a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions for hate crimes.

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