Legislation Introduced in Philadelphia to Strengthen Gravesite Vandalism Penalties

Gravestones damaged at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Photo by Jon Marks

In the wake of last month’s Mount Carmel Cemetery desecration, Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has announced the introduction of legislation to increase the penalties against those who vandalize cemeteries.

Under the bill, each vandalized gravesite would be treated as a separate offense, subject to a fine of $2,000. Under the city’s current Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism code, mass gravesite vandalism may be considered “a single offense against the cemetery as an institution.”

All gravesite vandalism would be covered the under law, “regardless of whether they have an ethnic or religious motive.” For a third successive offense, there could be imprisonment of up to 30 days.

About 100 gravestones were knocked over and/or damaged at Mount Carmel Cemetery in February, which has generated community outrage and prompted cleanup and mapping efforts at the cemetery.


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