‘Kanye Was Rite’: Jewish Cemetery Vandalized With Swastikas

Sixteen headstones in a Chicago suburb were found vandalized with “large red-painted swastikas,” and 23 others were defaced with spray paint.
Am Echod Jewish Cemetery in Waukegan, Ill. (Google Maps)

More than three dozen headstones at a Jewish cemetery in a Chicago suburb were vandalized over the weekend with messages referencing Nazis and the musician Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who has gone on a number of antisemitic tirades in recent weeks. 


Sixteen headstones at the Congregation Am Echod Jewish Cemetery in Waukegan, Illinois were found vandalized with “large red-painted swastikas,” and 23 more were defaced with red spray paint, according to Fox 32 Chicago. One headstone was defaced with “Kanye was rite,” according to a video obtained by Fox 32 Chicago. Police are investigating, but no arrests have been made so far, according to local outlets.

The vandalism follows a nationwide surge in antisemitism, with a record number of incidents in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The surge has received increased attention as a result of recent antisemitic remarks from Ye, the suspension of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving for promoting an antisemitic movie, as well as several other high-profile incidents of antisemitism nationwide


Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor said in a statement posted to Facebook that she was “deeply disturbed and angered by the hateful imagery” found in the cemetery. “Hate does not have a home in Waukegan; when such incidents occur, our marginalized neighbors are victimized, and our entire community suffers,” Taylor said. 

“I hope our officers promptly locate the perpetrators of this despicable act and hold them accountable, and I offer my full support to those directly impacted by this vandalism,” Taylor added.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who won re-election last week, called the vandalism an “evil act” and offered state resources “in the pursuit of justice.”

The Anti-Defamation League has tracked more than 400 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in Illinois since 2016, ABC7 in Chicago reported. The ADL has said that 2021 saw the most antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since the organization began tracking them in the 1970s.

“What it really represents is this normalization of antisemitism, and that is what we find to be incredibly concerning,” ADL Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg told ABC7.


Ye, who is from Chicago, posted a text exchange with Sean “Diddy” Combs last month in which Ye told the producer and record label executive that he was going to “use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me.” Ye later tweeted he was going to go “death [sic] con 3 on Jewish people.”

In unaired clips from an interview between Ye and right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which were published last month by VICE News, Ye claimed that Planned Parenthood was created to “control the Jew population.”

“When I say Jew, I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people known as the race Black really are,” Ye said, echoing a central tenet of Black Israelite beliefs. “This is who our people are. The blood of Christ. This, as a Christian, is my belief.”


Last month, several people in Los Angeles gave Nazi salutes and unfurled a banner that read “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a busy freeway. One person held a sign that read “honk if you know.” And after the University of Florida and University of Georgia’s college football teams played their annual game in Jacksonville in October, a message reading “Kanye was right about the Jews” appeared on a video board outside of the stadium

Earlier this month, the FBI’s office in Newark, New Jersey issued a warning of a “broad threat to synagogues” in the state. An 18-year-old was later arrested and charged with transmitting a threat.

Larry Yellen, whose mother and father are buried at the cemetery in Waukegan, said he thought about his parents and “how angry” his parents would be. 

"My father lost at least four aunts in the Holocaust, his family was from Poland,” Yellen told Fox 32. “They know more than anyone what a swastika means.”

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