City workers topple gravestones at Washington Cemetery

Snow-clearing city workers accidentally toppled at least 21 gravestones at an embattled Bay Parkway Jewish cemetery where more than 200 gravestones were vandalized late last year.

Department of Sanitation workers packed snow and ice against the fence at Washington Cemetery, which is between McDonald Avenue and 57th Street, for several days after the Dec. 26 blizzard. But the fence’s metal pillars couldn’t withstand the weight and fell over onto a line of gravestones, knocking them down. The latest destruction at the cemetery was first reported on the website sheepheadbaybites.com.

Cemetery officials could not be reached for comment by the Courier’s deadline, but employee Mike Ciamaga told sheepsheadbites.com that he first noticed the damaged stones early Sunday morning. The cemetery does not yet have an exact count of how many gravestones were knocked down because many are still covered by the snow, Ciamaga added. Most families have not yet been notified.

Local politicians, including those who put up a $10,000 reward for information leading police to the perps who committed the December hate-crime, are outraged.

“Weeks after dozens of gravestones were vandalized, it is absolutely disheartening to find out that the deceased buried at Washington Cemetery have been disturbed again,” said Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay).

Nelson is calling on the city to pay the full cost of families’ damaged gravestones.

“The Department of Sanitation should take full responsibility for their inattention to common sense so that the families of the deceased do not incur any out of pocket cost,” Nelson added.

The city seems relatively willing to comply with his demands, promising to get the bureaucracy moving as fast as it can.

“The Department is reaching out to cemetery officials to provide them with the necessary paperwork to file a claim,” according to Sanitation spokesman Matthew Lipani.

The toppled gravestones is the latest in a series of Brooklynites’ gripes with the city’s handling of the snow storm, as many feel Manhattan, a neighboring borough with a smaller population, received better services during and after the snowpacalypse.


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