ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Vice President Mike Pence makes unannounced visit to damaged gravestones in St. Louis Jewish cemetery. He gave a speech through a loudspeaker.
"I spoke words earlier today in St. Louis that were from the heart. There is no place in America for hatred, prejudice, or acts of violence, or anti-Semitism. I must tell you that the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place and the Jewish community. I want to thank you for that inspiration. For showing the world what America is all about," said Vice President Mike Pence.
Nearly 200 headstones that were damaged and toppled in the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City in Missouri. Members of the community have been left rattled.
This year alone, 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states and one Canadian province received dozens of bomb threats, according to the Jewish Community Center Association.
Vice President Mike Pence was in Fenton earlier Wednesday to tour a plant and talk about job growth. He commented on the act of vandalism in St. Louis.
"Monday morning America discovered that nearly 200 tombstones were toppled in a nearby Jewish cemetery. Speaking just yesterday President Trump called this, 'a horrible and painful act.' And so it was. That, along with other recent threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country. He declared it all a sad reminder of hate, prejudice and evil.
We condemn this vile act of vandalism and the people who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms.
It has been inspiring to people all across this country to see the people of Missouri rally around the Jewish community with compassion. You have inspired this nation with your kindness and your generosity.
Three days ago my wife and daughter and I were overseas. We saw first hand what happens when hatred runs rampant in a society. We were near Munich Germany where we visited where the first Nazi concentration camps were constructed. We were accompanied by a survivor of Dachau. A 93-year-old man who said he arrived there as a 17-year-old boy. He told us of his hellish life as we walked through that memorial. He toiled as a slave while others around him were taken away one by one to never return. By the grace of God he survived.
Before he left, he spoke words that touched my heart, and I'll always carry with me throughout my life. They resonate with me today. He spoke of his hellish existence in the waning days of the war. He looked up at me with a smile and said, 'Then the Americans came.'
He spoke of the kindness of the American soldiers that liberated that camp. He pointed a finger at me and said, 'When you go back you thank every one of those soldiers for what they did. Will you join me in applause for every man and woman who has worn the uniform of the United States of America.'"
Police are reviewing security camera tapes from the St. Louis area cemetery, but its director, Feigenbaum, said the footage has not provided any clues on who was behind he attack.
Crews are cleaning up the cemetery, straightening the headstones and assessing the damage.
The White House has denounced the spate of threats made against Jewish community centers around the country.
The response followed weeks of criticism that the Trump administration has not been forceful enough in denouncing the anti-Semitism that has occurred since his election.