BEDFORD – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Bedford Chief of Police Robert Bongiorno have confirmed that those responsible for spray painting anti-Semitic and lewd images and words at several private business and on town property in Bedford have been identified. The individuals are a male juvenile and a male young adult who reside in Bedford.
After consultation with community members, property owners, the Town of Bedford and faith leaders, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Bedford Police have agreed to the resolution of criminal charges in this matter through diversion. The individuals involved will be offered the opportunity to complete the Middlesex District Attorney’s Juvenile and Young Adult Diversion Program which will include participation in Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ). If the individuals fail to complete any of the requirements of their diversion program they could be subject to criminal vandalism charges in connection with this incident.
“The decision to resolve this case through our diversion program, which will include restorative justice programming, recognizes the tremendous impact that hateful symbols have on so many members of the community. It will allow many of those affected parties to come to the table to begin the process of healing. Our diversion program seeks to educate and rehabilitate and it is our expectation that diversion – and the RJ process – will allow the perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions and, having gained an understanding of the harm that they caused, change their behavior in the future,” said District Attorney Ryan.
“There aren’t words strong enough to reflect the Town’s disappointment and sadness over this incident, There is simply no room for antisemitism or hate in Bedford,” Town Manager Sarah Stanton said. “I’m proud of the collaborative response to this incident that is the hallmark of our community, which incorporated law enforcement, town government, the schools and our faith community, and I’m confident we’ll move forward in that same spirit of collaboration and unity.”
“I would like to commend our officers, our Town Manager Sarah Stanton and our Selectboard for their continued support and guidance during this incident. I would also like to thank Bedford School Superintendent Jon Sills, the School Committee and other elected officials and District Attorney Ryan for their tireless efforts and teamwork,” Chief Bongiorno said. “Bedford is a tolerant and vibrant community, and our community leaders are eager to see the restorative justice process forward.”
“The Bedford Jewish community appreciates the swift response from the District Attorney’s Office and Bedford Police. We support the use of diversion in this case and look forward to participating in this process to educate both the offenders and the community in a way that will shine a light on the impacts hateful speech can have on the everyday lives of our friends and neighbors. We hope that this incident highlights the need for us to remain vigilant and engaged in our communities so that we can work towards permanently eradicating these types of incidents from our wonderful community,” added Rabbi Susan Abramson, of Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington and Bedford resident.
“C4RJ is grateful to our community and law enforcement partners for seeing the value that restorative justice can provide in a difficult case such as this. Restorative justice creates a space in the pursuit of justice for community to hold the responsible parties accountable, giving voice to many. The RJ process can incorporate not only those whose property was damaged, but also members of the expanded community, to figure out how to have the greatest impact and mend both the tangible and intangible damage that this vandalism has caused. It is especially important during a time like this that communities feel empowered to embrace young people who do not fully understand the impact of their actions. C4RJ will work with all of these stakeholders to help the youth become more aware of their actions and to seed the growth necessary to contribute positively to the Bedford community,” said Erin Freeborn, Executive Director of C4RJ.
On April 4, Bedford Police responded to private business located on Great Road for a report of a graffiti depicting a swastika, male genitalia and anti-Semitic and lewd language that had been spray painted on the building. Over the course of the investigation police received additional reports of spray painted graffiti to the Bedford Department of Public Works storage garage in the Shawsheen Cemetery, two other private businesses and along the bridge wall located on Great Road. Police were able to obtain surveillance video and over the course of the investigation were ultimately able to obtain the identity of the individuals involved.
This incident was investigated by the Bedford Police in collaboration with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. As it is our intention to offer diversion in this case prior to the issuance of criminal charges, the identities of the individuals involved will not be released at this time. The program will commence when public health guidelines allow.
For more information about juvenile and young adult diversion programs please visit the Middlesex District Attorney’s Website here: https://www.middlesexda.com/beyond-courtroom/pages/juvenile-and-young-adult-diversion-programs.