Police offer details about Muslim grave desecrated in Evergreen Park
Sun-Times Media Wire and Chicago Sun-Times September 4, 2012 2:18PM
Updated: September 5, 2012 10:51AM
More information has been released about a Muslim gravesite that was defaced for the second time in two weeks at a cemetery in Evergreen Park.
Evergreen Park police Lt. Peter Donovan said the grave was defaced between 7 p.m. Aug. 28 and 7:20 p.m. Aug. 29. There are about 500 Muslim gravesites at the cemetery, but only one has been defaced.
Jessica McDunn, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Dignity Memorial Network, which owns Evergreen Cemetery, said the gravesite was defaced with anti-Islamic slurs and remarks taunting police.
The cemetery gates have been closed at sunset since the defacement of the gravesite began more than a year ago, she said, but restricting all access is not possible in order for families to visit.
The closing of the cemetery gates restricts vehicular traffic, she said, but preventing foot traffic is not possible because there are no fences surrounding the cemetery.
Evergreen Park police have placed a light and camera strategically within a tree near the gravesite, which the vandals mentioned in the graffiti, thanking police for the light, McDunn said. The cemetery is also cooperating with the FBI.
The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations could not be reached for comment regarding the recent defacement of the same gravesite.
This is the second time the same gravesite has been defaced within the past two weeks.
On Aug. 16, a Muslim man discovered someone had written “Raghaed Killer” [sic] on his father’s tombstone, Donovan said at the time.
While some Islamic groups have labeled the incident a hate crime, detectives have not yet come to the same conclusion, Donovan said, adding that street gang symbols also were drawn on the tombstone with what appeared to be a black marker.
“It’s not clear if it’s just property damage or something more,” Donovan said at the time.
Vandals have hit the same tombstone seven times since March 2011, Donovan said, and detectives were trying to figure out if the grave was targeted because of the family’s religious beliefs or because of a personal vendetta.