Hancock synagogue responds after man sentenced for role in hate group plot

Crime

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man is going to prison for his role in conspiring with a hate group to threaten and intimidate properties owned by Black people and Jews throughout the country.

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Richard Tobin, 20, to one year and one day in prison. Tobin had pleaded guilty to conspiring against rights stemming from vandalized synagogues in Racine, Wisconsin, and Hancock, Michigan.

Tobin admitted he was a member of a white supremacist group and had directed members to destroy and vandalize properties affiliated with Black people and Jews, prosecutors said. They said Tobin labeled the coordinated attack “Operation Kristallnacht” after the 1938 Nazi attack against Jews in Germany.

The synagogues in Racine and Hancock were spray painted with hate symbols in September 2019.

Authorities said Tobin implored members to post flyers, break windows and slash tires belonging to Blacks and Jews.

“The defendant conspired with a white supremacist hate group to vandalize and destroy property owned by Jewish and Black Americans, intending to instill fear into those communities across the country,” assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

A conspirator, Yousef Omar Barasneh, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy against rights in federal court in Wisconsin, for his role in vandalizing the synagogue in Racine, authorities said.

WJMN contacted Temple Jacob after the sentencing. Temple Jacob President, David Holden sent us the following statement:

The sentencing of Mr. Tobin for the vandalism at our synagogue and the synagogue in Racine brings a small measure of comfort to the Temple Jacob Community. Mr. Tobin was the lead conspirator, but not the person who physically committed the act of violence against our building. We continue to work with the FBI in Marquette to bring that person to justice as well.

The sentencing and attention it has raised once again reminds me of the great community we live in, here in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. This act stands out here only as it is rare and appalling. It’s not representative of our greater character, only of the lesser fragments of some small broken bits. I recall clearly that there were vastly more hands of our neighbors seeking to clean and scrub than there was damage to be repaired – and that is more aligned with our tenacity of spirit.

We’ve been waiting some years now for this sentencing and in that time we have persisted. We’ve put stronger security measures in place, and changed the ways we do some things for sure. But we are still largely the same community of faith we were before the spray paint.

I hope that Mr. Tobin turns his life around. And I hope that at his end he reflects on this sentence as having been the creation point of some good, new path.

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