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Boston police make arrest after vandal shatters glass panel at Holocaust memorial

by: Steven Yablonski Updated:

BOSTON - The man accused of shattering a glass pane of the New England Holocaust Memorial overnight is being held without bail. 

"When we hear the sound broken glass, we shudder. It's a terrible reminder of terrible times," said Barry Schrage of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which manages the Holocaust Memorial. 

The memorial is an outdoor space on Union Street and is open to the public at all times.

A taxi cab told police he saw two groups fighting and then saw one man throw a rock at a glass panel around 2 a.m. The panel, which holds the names of millions of numbers that represent the infamous tattoos that were on the victims' arms, shattered. Shards of glass littered the ground. 

"This is a reminder of what happened to our families....I lost my family in Auschwitz," said Israel Arbeiter, a Holocaust survivor who helped build the memorial. He rolled up his sleeve to show his tattooed number. 

WATCH: Evans announces arrest in Holocaust memorial vandalism

James Isaac, 21, of Roxbury, was arrested and charged with willful and malicious destruction of property and destruction of a place of memorial, which is a civil rights violation.

Isaac allegedly threw a rock at the glass pane. His attorney claimed that he has mental health issues. 

"A jail is not ea mental health facility. It's not designed to take care of people who are in a crisis or struggling with mental health issues," said Rebecca Kozak, Isaac's defense attorney. 

The judge revoked his bail on this case and two other unrelated ones. 

Following the vandalism, a crowd gathered around the memorial to show support for the Jewish community, The memorial has six glass towers at the memorial, each reaching 54 feet high, and each one is lit internally from top to bottom. Each tower also has 22 individual panes of glass.

"What this represents, behind us," said Mayor Marty Walsh, referencing the memorial, "is what type of city and what type of country we should be every single day." 

The memorial was dedicated in 1995 after years of planning initiated by a group of Holocaust survivors living in the Boston area.

Walsh said that extra glass panels were bought when the memorial was designed in case of vandalism or wearing down. Shrage said this is the first time a panel has needed to be replaced. 

"Jewish people have been shattered many many times in our history. Every time we rebuild," said Shrage. 

He said the glass is ready to go and they will rebuild. Shrage thanked the governor, mayor and city as a whole for their support.