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Hate crime charge filed in Loop synagogue vandalism

Stuart Wright, 31, faces one count of hate crime at a church or synagogue and one count of criminal damage to property.

Stuart Wright, 31, faces one count of hate crime at a church or synagogue and one count of criminal damage to property. | Chicago Police

A man has been charged with vandalizing the Chicago Loop Synagogue early Saturday.

Stuart Wright, 31, faces one count of hate crime at a church or synagogue and one count of criminal damage between $300 and $10,000, both felonies, according to Chicago Police.

Officers responded at 12:20 a.m. Saturday to a call of “criminal damage in progress” at the temple at 16 S. Clark St., police said.

The vandal got out of a dark-colored SUV, possibly a Toyota Highlander, and placed several swastika stickers on the front doors, police said. Then he took a metal object and smashed the front glass windows.

Wright was identified as the vandal after anonymous information was provided on a tip line to Area Central detectives and he was identified on surveillance video, police said. He was arrested about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday as he left a home in the 2100 block of South Loomis.

Wright is scheduled to appear in bond court Thursday, police said. His home address was not known Wednesday afternoon.

“This act of anti-Semitism was meant to threaten the community, but it brought together the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities with a renewed purpose to stand together against such hate,” American Jewish Committee (AJC) Chicago Director Amy Stoken said in a emailed statement. “Our community has been heartened by the overwhelming show of solidarity and we will continue to stand together with the understanding that no one community is safe unless all communities are safe.”

An evidence technician removes two swatiskas stuck to the front door of the Chicago Loop Synagogue early Saturday.

An evidence technician removes two swatiskas stuck to the front door of the Chicago Loop Synagogue early Saturday. | Network Video Productions

 

In 2016, a church in Pilsen was the target of at least three racist acts of vandalism.

Swastikas, along with the phrases “Rape N Kill Mexico,” “KKK” and “Trump Rules,” were drawn and written onto the doors and windows of the Lincoln United Methodist Church at 2242 S. Damen.

In October, four days after the last attack, authorities charged Robert Samar, 60, with one felony count of criminal defacement to a place of worship. He pleaded not guilty and is currently on electronic monitoring awaiting trial, court records show.

Asked if the difference in religions — a Christian church and not a Jewish synagogue — was the reason Samar didn’t face hate crime charges, a representative from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said: “This was a decision made under a prior administration, and we are not in a position at this time to comment on the reasons for the earlier charging decision.”

Robert Samar | Chicago Police photo

Robert Samar | Chicago Police photo

 

The Lincoln United Methodist Church was the target of at least three acts of racist vandalism last year,

The Lincoln United Methodist Church was the target of at least three acts of racist vandalism last year, though no hate crime charges were filed. | Facebook photo