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Local Jewish leaders applaud synagogue vandal's prison sentence

Posted at 11:47 PM, May 21, 2019

CARMEL — A 21-year-old man is facing three years in federal prison for his role in burning and spray painting Nazi symbols on a Carmel synagogue.

The vandalism has been washed away since the anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered on a Saturday in July last year, but the wounds of the threatening symbols remain as the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla and the Jewish community of Central Indiana moves forward.

"There's, of course, a certain amount of fear and anger and disappointment," David Sklar, assistant director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said. "The people that perpetrate these types of crimes don't realize the effect that comes out of these things usually brings communities closer together."

Nolan Brewer was arrested and charged with conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla. He was sentenced Tuesday to three years in federal prison.

Sklar said he feels Brewer's three-year sentence is sufficient.

"When it comes to these types of crimes, you very rarely see the perpetrator caught and brought to justice," he said.

Brewer, an avowed believer in Nazism, pleaded guilty to the federal hate crime. He told investigators he and his wife, who is a minor, targeted the synagogue because it was full of ethnic Jews.

At the time the crime was perpetrated, there was no hate crime law in Indiana. That changed this year when Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a hate crime bill into law. That law has been criticized by Democrats as insufficient because it does not explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity.

"I do think it was a step in the right direction," Sklar said. "We're going to have to see how the courts treat these things when they happen."

Sklar wants people to remember crimes like these continue to be committed across the country.

"We know these things are happening to every community, every community of color, every minority community," he said.

The Anti-Defamation League said Indiana's new hate crime law, "does not meet our standard for a real and effective hate crimes bill in 2019." The law goes into effect July 1.