Felony Charges Filed Against Three Miami University Students for Desecration of Sukkah
The City of Oxford Division of Police in Butler County, Ohio, has charged three Miami University students with felony vandalism for desecrating a Sukkah put up by the school’s Hillel chapter to celebrate Sukkot.
The department said on Thursday that students Kevin Ladriere; 20, Eli Lauger; 20, and Santiago Arenas; 19, voluntarily confessed to the crime, which occurred during the early morning hours of October 15, but denied that antisemitism motivated it.
“During our investigation, it was determined that there was no religious bias involved with the commission of the crime,” Oxford Division of Police said on Thursday. “While the suspects in this case did not understand that they were damaging a religious symbol, the effects were felt by the Jewish community.”
Responding to the announcement, Hillel-Miami University, which provided surveillance footage of the incident to law enforcement, thanked the campus community for its support and declared that “we, at Hillel, will continue to live our Jewish lives proudly out loud.”
“What happens next in terms of the concurrent investigations is not up to anyone at Hillel at Miami,” the group continued. “We will continue to work with the University and Oxford Police Division as is appropriate for any community member reporting a crime.”
Responding to The Algemeiner’s request for comment about the arrests, Miami University said, “We were deeply troubled and saddened to learn about the vandalism of the Sukkah at the Hillel off-campus center at Miami University, and we empathize with the Jewish community at the distress and fear the incident caused.”
“Miami is committed to cultivating a welcoming and safe environment for all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background,” it continued. “We will continue to educate our community about diversity and promote a culture of inclusion and respect, and we continuously seek changes to ensure that we are true to the mission.”