PITTSBURGH, PA – Sick…and heartbreaking. On a weekend where we honor our war dead, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, some twisted, cruel person or persons decided to vandalize a war memorial overnight on Memorial Day.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting the memorial, which depicts a World War I doughboy at the intersection of Penn and Butler streets in the Lawrenceville section, was covered with red paint. A message was spray-painted on the base of the memorial, which said: “JUNE 19, 1986, GLORY TO THE DAY OF HEROISM.”
“Vandalizing a memorial on any day is wrong, but it is incomprehensible to vandalize this memorial on a day in which we honor those who served and gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today,” said the city’s Director of Public Safety, Wendell Hissrich. “Pittsburgh Police will vigorously investigate this crime.”
According to a police spokeswoman, Cara Cruz, police are analyzing “all available video footage” from the area.
The public works department and other city workers were attempting to clean the memorial Monday afternoon. Crews were using pressure washers to try to remove the paint, however it was believed they may have to use something else to completely remove it.
— City of Pittsburgh (@CityPGH) May 25, 2020
Police said that it was unknown what time the statue, which was erected in 1921, was vandalized.
Residents of the area were incredulous when they saw what had been done to the statue. Ken Diulus, a resident of Lawrenceville is a naval veteran who served between 1982 and 1985. When he walked past the statue Monday morning, he couldn’t believe what happened.
“I’ve lived my whole life here, with the exception of when I was in service,” Diulus said. “I have never seen anything like this.”
According to KDKA CBS-2, Duane Rieder, a resident of the city said, “It’s just so sad. What is your message? Why would you do something like this to this incredible piece?”
“Everybody knows it for where it is. The corner her where Butler comes into here with Penn,” he said.
Rieder owns the Clemente Museum, which is adjacent to the damaged memorial, and noted that at this time in our nation’s history, he said that we should be uniting, not dividing, he told KDKA. “It’s very sad, it’s very sad,” he said.
The mayor of Pittsburgh was understandably angry. In a tweet, he said, “This is not Pittsburgh. Whoever did this. Please leave. Today.”
This is not Pittsburgh. Whoever did this. Please leave. Today. https://t.co/UZc7BjezfI
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) May 25, 2020
The monument, which is known as “The Doughboy War Memorial,” was built to honor those who served in World War I, however, is in memory to all military members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The memorial had been recently spruced up, with flags placed around it in time for the Memorial Day holiday. According to law enforcement authorities, they believe that it happened just before 8 a.m. KDKA said that when their cameras arrived, the paint still appeared wet.
Pittsburgh Police from Zone 2 are investigating after the WWI War Memorial on Butler Street and Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville was vandalized overnight.
Police are reviewing all available video footage.
— Pittsburgh Police (@PghPolice) May 25, 2020
The date referenced in the vandalism, June 19, 1986, based on our research is the date the Communist Party and the People’s Guerilla Army engaged in a bitter fight against the genocidal Peruvian state, according to the Incendiary News and other sources.
More than 250 died “in a heroically defiant struggle against the forces of reaction and imperialism that lives on today as a symbol of resistance and rebellion.”
Newsweek however is reporting that in addition to that date, there were also symbols which represent communist ideology, in particular a number of hammer and sickle symbols. That particular symbol was most notably used as the emblem on the flag of the former Soviet Union and was first adopted during the Russian Revolution.
It is unclear why this particular type of graffiti was directed toward a memorial honoring America’s war dead. A veteran who lives nearby, however, spoke exclusively to Law Enforcement Today on the condition of anonymity.
“Joe”, as we’ll call him, is a Marine who served six combat tours. He said that this has all of the makings of being Antifa.
“There are a group of us who know where to look and who to look for,” he said. “These cats have a history of causing trouble.”
He said it’s bad enough that they go around terrorizing law-abiding citizens. But this was the ultimate act of disrespect to the fallen… as well as to those who serve.
“The police in the area do a damn good job,” he said. “But so help me God, if it’s these Antifa punks again, they’d better pray to God that the police catch them before these salty ole’ Marines do.”
It’s not just Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, Boston’s Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial was vandalized.
Police responded to a report of vandalism and when they arrived they found that two of the pillars had been knocked over and the Puerto Rican flag had been lowered until it touched the ground.
Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement said he was “disgusted by this act of vandalism.”
City Councilor Ed Flynn, a veteran, said:
“It’s very cowardly for anyone to even consider to do something like this. It hurts our Gold Star families, every day for them is Memorial Day.”
Police are investigating the crime. Boston Public Works crews and Boston Parks and Recreation members worked to get the damage repaired.
A Memorial Day service is still scheduled to be held at the site at noon today.https://t.co/2LPmLSJk9a
— WGBH News (@wgbhnews) May 25, 2020
Boston Commissioner of Veterans Services Robert Santiago said:
“Any time is bad timing when a memorial is damaged or defaced, but being that this is Memorial Day weekend and tomorrow is Memorial Day, it adds an extra ounce of significance.
“Remember what Memorial Day is all about. It’s about taking a moment to reflect and recognize and honor all of our service members who have given and paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we have today.”
Police investigating ‘cowardly’ act of vandalism of Boston’s Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial https://t.co/ShgsC9hEfr
— 7News Boston WHDH (@7News) May 25, 2020
According to the Department of Defense, about 200,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the US military since 1898, when the island became part of the nation. The Boston memorial honoring Puerto Ricans who gave their lives is the first to include service members from the island and was introduced in 2013.
The city still plans on holding a memorial service today at 12pm.
Law Enforcement Today told you about another instance of disrespect at a veteran’s memorial, this time in San Diego.
A video that was posted to Facebook on May 18th, which has been subsequently removed, showed a rather disrespectful display toward military veterans.
The video showed an unidentified male skateboarding atop the granite walls emblazoned with placards of military heroes both alive and deceased at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in San Diego.
#ICYMI: Some are upset to see this skateboarder riding on the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in #LaJolla, where about 5,200 veterans are honored. A member of the memorial association says he believes the video was taken Monday. More details⤵️https://t.co/ER3pq1NCYY pic.twitter.com/KIlM4SbYyv
— Lauren Coronado (@LaurenmCoronado) May 24, 2020
In the video, the skateboarder can be seen attempting to perform a trick from one portion of the granite wall to another. President and CEO of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, Neil O’Connell, said the following about the video:
“I’m appalled at such disregard and carelessness. This activity severely damages this fine granite that surrounds the walls of our memorial. This is an unfortunate situation as the memorial has been closed since Mid March.”
O’Connell noted the copious amount of upkeep required to keep the memorial looking in a manner befitting to those represented among the displays, likening the act of skating on top of the granite as “disrespectful”:
“Our granite walls require constant care by volunteers due to the atmosphere. It’s a lot of work. But come on, how disrespectful is it to ride skateboards over the tops and edges of this fine surface.”
The memorial is home to that of more than 5,000 military heroes immortalized into the stone walls present.
Don Hotz, one of the individuals who’d seen the video, was especially saddened by the act committed on the video, as both his father and uncle have memorials displayed at the site:
“I know what it’s like to be a kid and a skater but this where frankly I draw the line, because I think this is completely inappropriate.”
Officials from the San Diego Police Department are aware of the incident captured on the video and are currently investigating this as a case of vandalism. There’s been currently no arrests or suspects identified at this time.
Earlier this month, we brought to you a similar story coming from Houston, Texas, involving a disrespectful act caught on camera toward fallen military veterans grave sites.
An unidentified woman in a minivan was caught on camera driving over the gravestones of military veterans at Houston National Cemetery this past Mother’s Day.
The incident on May 10th followed shortly after a flyover from the Lone Star Flight Museum commemorating the Victory in Europe Day 75th anniversary.
Mother's Day outrage: Woman seen driving over graves at Texas veterans cemetery. A minivan driver looking to avoid traffic inside Houston National Cemetery on Mother’s Day was captured in a startling video running over the gravestones of military veteranhttps://t.co/KrwLR3e0PL
— Lee Lancaster M.D. (@LJLMD) May 11, 2020
Witnesses were astonished to see the display of a woman operating a red minivan, running over gravestones in what appears to be an effort to avoid condensed traffic within the cemetery. Jeremiah Johnston was the person who captured the footage of the woman in question:
“I was shocked, and never would have expected that to happen. This is Houston, and there are crazy drivers, and I never would have expected to see them going through a cemetery. Especially when everyone was there to pay their respects during a patriotic flyover.”
Another witness to the act, Amanda Hill, noted that the driver appeared to be trying to rush out of the area after the flyover had completed:
“She tried to back up, and then went up on the curb of the section where my grandparents are buried. [The woman] couldn’t get around some cars, and then she started running over the graves.”
After the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, there was a flyover above Houston National Cemetery. When it ended, one woman didn't want to sit in traffic. So she drove over dozens of graves to get around the cars while a bunch of families were there visiting.
— Kimmie Tee (@RadioKimmie) May 12, 2020
Hill stated that when the driver was getting close to running over the grave of their loved one, Lt. Marsh, their family started to block the path of travel for the minivan’s driver:
“My mom stood in front of the van, and finally had to jump out of the way, because she was going to hit her.”
Apparently, the gravestone of Lt. Marsh was spared from being run over after said effort by Hill’s family, but many others were disrespected allegedly at the hands of this driver. When it was all said and done, Hill said the woman had desecrated “dozens of graves” in her effort to seemingly avoid a traffic jam at a cemetery.
Not only was this act deeply offensive, but Hill was disgusted that it happened on a day that was meant to commemorate our World War II veterans:
“I felt bad for the families whose loved ones’ graves were run over. It’s so disrespectful and especially on a day when we’re honoring veterans of World War ll.”
The day following the disrespectful display, the director of the National Cemetery told the local ABC13 news station that while no gravestones appeared to be damaged, there was approximately $1,000 worth of damage done to the sprinkler systems that were run over.
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