Three teenagers have pleaded guilty to criminal damage after twisting a large menorah in Chandler into a swastika during Hanukkah in 2016.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a press statement Thursday that he accepted the plea deal because it involved remorse, education, and community service.
Each teen, charged as a juvenile, agreed to perform 30 hours of community service, write an apology letter to the family that owned the menorah and meet a Holocaust survivor in person. Then, each must write a 10-page essay on the lessons from the Holocaust and on the effect of their actions.
On the night of December 29, 2016, four teenagers drove through a Chandler neighborhood and saw in one front yard the menorah, made from piping. They reworked it in the shape of a swastika and put it in a friend’s yard as a prank, they told investigators.
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Then, they took selfies with the twisted work of dark art, and put the abomination back in the original yard for the horrified Jewish family to discover the next morning.
“In seeking justice for all through responsible application of the law, sometimes that means employing innovative strategies when imposing consequences,” Montgomery said in his prepared statement.
“This crime impacted the victims, their community, and, in fact, many around the world. It also presented us with an opportunity to have a positive impact on young lives and create healing through education and understanding,” Montgomery added.
“At this point in our nation’s history and mindful of recent events, it is important to be reminded that every generation has a responsibility to engage in the process of teaching civic virtue to each succeeding generation and the meaning of what it is to be an American."