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Rubio Urges Garland to Prosecute Pro-Palestinian Protesters Over Alleged LA National Cemetery Vandalism

Rubio Urges Garland to Prosecute Pro-Palestinian Protesters Over Alleged LA National Cemetery Vandalism

Pro-Palestinian groups protest in New York on Nov. 24, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Aaron Pan

Aaron Pan

1/18/2024

Updated: 1/23/2024

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the alleged vandalism of a national cemetery by pro-Palestinian protesters earlier this month.
“The defacement of the Los Angeles National Cemetery is disgusting, anti-American, and a testament as to how far pro-Hamas extremists will go to advocate on behalf of a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his Republican colleagues wrote in a letter dated Jan. 17.
On Jan. 8, pro-Palestinian protesters allegedly vandalized and defaced the Los Angeles National Cemetery, where more than 80,000 veterans are buried. The demonstrators spray-painted the phrase “Free Gaza” and an upside-down red triangle, a Nazi symbol, on the entrance to the cemetery. During World War II, Nazi Germany used a system of upside-down triangle badges to classify prisoners in concentration camps.
Protesters also spray-painted “Intifada” on the cemetery’s wall and chanted “Long live Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” among other phrases. According to the American Jewish Council and the Anti-Defamation League, “Intifada” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are anti-Semitic slogans, as the phrases call for the destruction of Israel and the use of violence against Jews.
The letter urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute the protesters, accusing them of violating federal law.
Federal law explicitly prohibits individuals from willfully damaging or destroying “any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States,'” the senators said. “The conduct by pro-Hamas extremists at the Los Angeles National Cemetery fits squarely into the conduct described by law.”
After the incident, the cemetery released a statement condemning the action: “The Los Angeles National Cemetery is where our nation’s heroes are laid to rest, and any act of vandalism is unacceptable.
“We are taking immediate steps to restore the Los Angeles National Cemetery sign to its original state, and we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who represents the district where the cemetery is located, said it is “proof that people who hate Israel also hate America.”
“They deface a cemetery for those who gave their lives to end slavery and protect the world from fascism,” Mr. Sherman added.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also criticized the move on her Facebook page: “This disgusting act reminds us of their evil intentions.”
The letter called for the DOJ to take legal action against the activists. “Pro-Hamas radicals and terrorist sympathizers must immediately face consequences for their immoral and illegal tactics,” the senators wrote.
DOJ officials didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Double Standard

A pro-Palestinian protest in Washington on Jan. 13 became unruly as activists breached an exterior White House gate and clashed with riot police. The unrest prompted an evacuation of some staff members from the White House as people threw bottles and other objects.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela A. Smith said investigations would be started to “hold those found responsible accountable for their actions,” but so far, no arrests have been made and the incident has received relatively little legacy media attention.
Former President Donald Trump commented on social media on Jan. 15 that a double standard exists, given that legacy media outlets have called the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach an “insurrection,” subjecting it to intense scrutiny and extended coverage.
“So interesting to watch anti-Israel protesters violently demonstrating at the [White] House, getting close to tearing down the fences that protect the President, and NOTHING is even mentioned about it in the LameStream Media, which is merely a subsidiary of the Democrat Party,” he said in a Truth Social post. “No arrests, no nothing. Free the J6 Hostages, NOW.”
Since the start of the Israel–Hamas war, pro-Palestinian activists have gathered at multiple major locations to protest Israel, causing disruptions. In New York, they disrupted New Year’s Eve celebrations. Last week, protesters blocked a bridge near the British parliament in London. The demonstrators also blocked traffic at Los Angeles International Airport two weeks ago.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.
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Aaron Pan

Aaron Pan

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Aaron Pan is a reporter covering China and U.S. news. He graduated with a master's degree in finance from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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