(Newsroom America) -- A federal grand jury in Memphis has returned a one-count indictment charging Justin Shawn Baker, 25, of Jackson, Tennesee, with violating the civil rights of students and faculty of the Margolin Hebrew Academy.
The indictment alleges that on or about January 12, Baker defaced a Torah and religious prayer books, which the students and faculty of Memphis’ Margolin Hebrew Academy were using for a worship service conducted at the Doubletree Hotel in Jackson.
“Freedom to practice one’s religion without prejudice is one of the bedrock principles upon which our nation was founded,” said Edward L. Stanton, III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
“Criminal acts such as those alleged in the indictment represent an attack upon the rights that generations of Americans have fought and died to ensure and protect. Our dedicated civil rights unit will continue to protect and defend the rights of our citizens through vigorous enforcement of federal law.”
“This kind of vandalism strikes at the heart of religious freedom in this country, and it will not be tolerated,” said Roy L. Austin, Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Our nation’s civil rights laws protect all denominations, and those who would strike at the right of peaceful citizens to worship will be held accountable.”