LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A Texas man was charged Tuesday with felony vandalism with a hate crime allegation for allegedly defacing a large menorah in Beverly Hills — including carving a Nazi symbol into the menorah’s base — on the first night of Hanukkah.
Eric Brian King, 47, of Dallas, was expected to be arraigned later Tuesday at the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Airport Branch.
“The ugliness of antisemitism has revealed itself in many ways throughout our community and across the country in recent weeks,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said Tuesday in announcing the charges against King.
“I condemn it, and we must make clear that such hate will not be tolerated. The conduct alleged in this case is despicable, especially coming during one of the most joyous times of the year for Jewish people. We will always stand up against such hatred and hold accountable those who commit hate crimes in Los Angeles County.”
King was arrested Sunday night, according to Lt. Giovanni Trejo of the Beverly Hills Police Department, which is still investigating the case. He was being held on $20,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Police went to the area of Sunset Boulevard and Foothill Road at about 8 p.m. Sunday on “a report of a suspect defacing a menorah on private property …” Trejo said in a statement.
“The suspect was located with the assistance of the police department’s Real Time Watch Center … after surveillance video depicted him throwing objects at a menorah,” Trejo said. “The initial investigation revealed that King carved Nazi symbols into the base of the menorah.”
The incident is the latest in a string of recent antisemitic episodes in the Los Angeles area.
“A despicable act such as this will never be tolerated in our city,” Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said in a statement on Monday.
Local faith leaders also called the alleged crime “despicable” and “disgusting,” while decrying a wider rise of antisemitic episodes.
“We are aware of the despicable antisemitic crime in Beverly Hills last night and are working with our partners in the city of Beverly Hills and local law enforcement to ensure that justice is served and future acts of hate can be prevented,” Rabbi Noah Farkas, president/CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said in a statement Monday.
“It is unfortunate that we as Jews can’t even have a peaceful display of our religion without being targeted in this disturbing wave of recent antisemitism locally and globally.”
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles-area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a separate statement: “We are extremely alarmed by the growing threat of antisemitism in this country. These disgusting hate crimes have been occurring at an increasing frequency and are a threat to the fabric of our society. The Jewish community deserves to celebrate their holidays and live in peace without disturbance from hate-filled individuals.”
In October, some 25 flyers blaming gun control on Jewish people were disbursed in Beverly Hills. Reports of those flyers came the day after seven activists with the anti-Jewish group Goyim Defense League draped signs on an overpass of the San Diego (405) Freeway in Los Angeles that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews” and “Honk if you know.”
Several of the activists were photographed making “Heil Hitler” salutes on the overpass. The sign was a reference to antisemitic statements made by rapper Ye — formerly known as Kanye West.
The menorah incident also occurred in the wake of a report earlier this month that said hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose to their highest level in 19 years in 2021 — jumping 23% from the previous year.
According to the report by the county Commission on Human Relations, there were 786 reported hate crimes in the county last year, up from 641 the prior year. The number is the highest it has been since 2002.
Religion-based hate crimes jumped by 29%, with 74% of the offenses targeting Jews, according to the report.
Overall, the report noted that reported hate crimes have grown by 105% since falling to an all-time low in 2013.