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D.C. monuments damaged with graffiti over holiday weekend

courtesy of Chris Gordon

courtesy of Chris Gordon

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Over the holiday weekend, three of the district’s monuments were damaged with graffiti. Those memorials affected by this graffiti included the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The vandalism consisted of scribbled messages in black marker at or near the landmarks.

National Park Service officials and U.S. Park Police said that the three sites had markings that were similar in nature and that were not considered to be politically or racially motivated. Two of the messages written were found at the Lincoln Memorial: one in the memorial and one nearby at the foot of the steps leading up to the large marble statue. One was found at the World War II Memorial and one at the Washington Monument. The fifth and final message was found on an electrical box near Jefferson Drive SW. “Never will I ever understand the purpose behind defacing monuments that stand for such historical events,” freshman Alex Moore said. “There is no good reason behind any of it.”

Most of the words were difficult to decipher, however one messages read, “Jackie shot JFK.” Others made references to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center back in 2001. Sargent Anna Rose, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Park Police, said each of the monuments had similar messages, leading them to consider the possibility that this was one person behind it all. “I just cannot understand what goes through people’s heads that could lead them to vandalize such an important part of America’s culture and history,” junior Ana Demuria said.

Police reported that the incidents most likely occurred between the hours of nine to 11 p.m. on Saturday night. Authorities said they have been told that there was a rather large crowd around some of the monuments late in the evening and are asking anyone who may have seen something to come forward. Those who are investigating the crimes are working to pull video footage from the area. “We understand that there was quite a crowd here Saturday night who may have seen something,” Rose said at a news conference in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Park Police officials stated that none of the messages rose to a level of becoming a hate crime, at least according to Rose. Those who are responsible for the crimes could face vandalism charges, similar to charges against a Chinese woman who was suspected of tossing the green paint on many D.C. monuments back in 2013. “I remember visiting the memorial during this time period,” junior Breanna Capers said. “I just remember having an awful feeling in my stomach about it because I felt as if the defacing of the memorials was a smack in the face to America. I hope they catch whoever is responsible for these acts.”

It takes several treatments to remove graffiti from monuments, especially to avoid causing long-term damage to the memorials. Those working to remove the messages expect the cleaning process to take about two weeks. “This really sickens me,” sophomore Ian Paige said. “I really feel bad for those who travel to D.C. to see these incredible monuments, because the person who is responsible really is taking away from their experience in this wonderful city.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
D.C. monuments damaged with graffiti over holiday weekend