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Local & Regional

Minor Suspects Arrested On Felony Charges Related To Vandalism Of Tulsa Holocaust Memorial Statues

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Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
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Two of the sculptures memorializing children murdered in the Holocaust that were vandalized on the grounds of Tulsa's Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art on Wednesday.

Two teenagers were arrested Thursday in connection with the vandalism of Holocaust memorial sculptures on the grounds of Tulsa's Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art early Wednesday morning.

In a Thursday release, the Tulsa Police Department said the suspects are a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy who were discovered to also be suspected of threatening an individual with a knife in a separate incident before the vandalism. They are being charged with assault with a deadly weapon and felony vandalism. Under law, property destruction can be considered a felony if damage exceeds $1,000. 

Police are not releasing the suspects' names because of their ages.

"You come out and your car has been egged, that's not great. But when you have statues dedicated to the children who lost their lives in one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humankind, obviously there's a different tier there. So we're taking this very seriously and we really want to catch these people," TPD Lt. William White said on Wednesday, shortly after the damage was discovered.

Drew Diamond, executive director of both the museum and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, said five sculptures were damaged. Each wire-frame sculpture is in the shape of a child at play, and contains hundreds of stones with the names and ages of some of the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust, Diamond said.

"For our community -- not only just our Jewish community, but I think for the community at large in Tulsa, this has a very debilitating effect," Diamond said. 

"I would hope that these young men, coming out of this, would have some realization that they weren't just knocking down statues, they were actually causing more emotional damage," Diamond said. "For the broader community, though, it does give us the opportunity to have conversations about why these statues exist and about why Holocaust education is important."

Diamond said he hasn't seen evidence that the vandalism was any sort of premeditated act of anti-Semitism.

"Having said that, the impact is the same. At the end of the day, it's painful to have this happen," Diamond said. 

Diamond, formerly TPD chief himself, thanked police for their quick work in locating and arresting the suspects. He said the sculptures are in the process of being repaired, at an estimated cost of $15,000.

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