University City residents unite at rally following cemetery vand - KMOV.com

University City residents unite at rally following cemetery vandalism

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University City residents unite at rally, put together art project. (Credit: KMOV) University City residents unite at rally, put together art project. (Credit: KMOV)

UNIVERSITY CITY (KMOV.com) – Residents in University City came together Sunday afternoon for a unity rally after vandalism at a Jewish cemetery shook the community.

Police are not ruling the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery a hate crime at this time but that did not stop the community from speaking out against what they perceive as an attack.

“It’s important we show up and show support and say it’s not ok,” said Trish Sandler, a University City resident.

Her husband’s family is buried at the cemetery. They brought their eight-year-old daughter to the rally. In addition to hearing speakers from different faith organizations, the group came together with a community art project.

“The beauty of collaboration, we’re collaborating, that kind of comradely is beautiful,” said Jeff Sippel, an art professor at UMSL who help organized the art project. The hope is they will continue the art project at different schools and eventually find a place to display it.

Mayor Shelley Welsch said she was impressed by the outpouring and love she’s seen in her city during the difficult week. She says police continue to investigate who is responsible for toppling nearly 200 graves.

“Until we know who did it we will not be able to know the why,” said Mayor Welsch.

But the city council is also set to take action on two bills that while not spawned by the vandalism, take on a greater sense of urgency said Welsch.

The first bill is a hate crime ordinance. It was initially introduced last fall but city council will take it up at Monday’s meeting. If this vandalism, or any future crime, is determined to be driven hate, Mayor Welsch says this gives the city another tool.

They will also introduce a “Welcoming Cities” resolution.

“I hope the council will go on record saying University City is a city that is welcoming to all,” said Mayor Welsch who says the idea for the bill came after President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

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