D.C. monuments damaged with graffiti over holiday weekend

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

National Park Service officials and U.S. Park Police said that the three sites had markings very similar in nature and that were not considered to be politically or racially motivated. Two of the three messages that were written had been 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. Other messages were found at the World War II Memorial and  at the Washington Monument which added up to be three messages in total for those two landmarks. 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 message 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, confirmed that each of the monuments had similar messages, leading them to consider the possibility that one person was 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 there was a large crowd around the monuments around that time frame and are urging anyone who may have seen something to come forward. “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 the level of becoming a hate crime, at least according to Rose. Those who are responsible for the crimes could face charges of vandalism, similar to charges against a Chinese woman who was suspected of tossing green paint on numerous D.C. landmarks back in 2013. “I remember visiting the memorial during that time period,” junior Breanna Capers said. “I just remember having an awful feeling in my stomach because I felt like the defacing of the memorials was a smack in the face to America. I hope they catch whoever is responsible for these acts.”

In regards to cleaning up the mess, it takes several treatments to remove graffiti from monuments. 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.”