U.S.

Memorial Day: Hundreds of Graves in an Illinois Cemetery Were Defaced With Swastikas

More than 200 headstones in an Illinois cemetery were defaced with Nazi swastikas early Saturday.

The hate symbol was sprayed onto 200 headstones, two family mausoleums and another structure in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Glen Carbon, a cemetery official told the Huffington Post.

It came only days before the cemetery, where 1,600 veterans are buried, marks Memorial Day.

GettyImages-460360288 (File picture) Hundreds of gravestones in Illinois were defaced with Swastikas early Saturday morning Getty Images

“It’s just unfortunate that they’re doing it this time of year, because it’s Memorial Day. That’s a special day for us,” the superintendent, Mark Johnson, told the News-Democratadding that events marking the day will go ahead. 

Edwardsville Police Department announced Saturday via their Facebook page that they had arrested a 34-year-old white male in connection with their investigation into the incident.

"Further information will be released after criminal charges are filed," the department said in a statement. 

Police said the headstones had been defaced sometime early Saturday morning, before 7 a.m. Staff at the non-sectarian cemetery, which is about 20 miles east of St Louis, spent Saturday removing the swastikas from the gravestones, reported the KSD News network.

The incident comes as the U.S. experiences a surge in hate crime. According to a February report by the non-profit civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center, a 60 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents was recorded in the U.S. in 2016-2017.