The New England Holocaust Memorial near Boston City Hall was vandalized early Wednesday morning. Boston Police responded to a call around 2 a.m. that a man allegedly threw a rock at one of the glass panels, shattering it.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at a press conference later Wednesday morning in front of the shattered glass panel of the memorial blocked off with crime tape.

Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at a press conference at the memorial on Wednesday.
Lucy Martirosyan/WGBH News

“What this represents behind us is what type of city and what type of country we should be every single day. And what this represents behind us, we should never forget,” Walsh said.  “And certainly the act that happened last night, brought us out. We have not forgotten.”

21-year-old James E. Isaac of Roxbury was arraigned on charges of malicious destruction of property and willful damage to a memorial.

This is the first time in over 22 years that the memorial has been vandalized. But it’s something that founders of the memorial, like Holocaust survivor Izzy Arbeiter, say they expected.

“There are six million numbers. My number that I have on my arm is there too,” Arbeiter said as he rolled up his sleeve to show the number identification tattoo he received during the Holocaust. Arbeiter said the memorial’s planners kept extra glass panels in storage, in case something like this happened.

“Thank God when we were building the memorial, we were thinking of the future and what might happen,” he said.

Barbara Grossman, who has held leadership roles in the creation and dedication of the memorial since it was first designed, says the incident illustrates that intolerance has been increasing in the country.

“I don’t think that this is an accident — even if this ends up being a random act of violence and not an intentional one — that we are seeing a spike in hate crimes and violence, because of the sentiments that have been expressed by our political leaders,” she said.

In a written statement, District Attorney Dan Conley’s office said Isaac allegedly threw the rock at the glass panel after an argument with a group of people who refused to give him the time when he asked for it.

Arbeiter and others on Wednesday afternoon picked up the pieces of the broken glass for safekeeping, saying they wanted them as tribute to Jewish heritage and history. 

The damage was to one of the memorial's glass panels.
Lucy Martirosyan/WGBH News