- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Police in central Illinois are investigating after people looking for parking at a Donald Trump rally drove their vehicles over several grave markers at a private cemetery Sunday.

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner said police did not direct overflow traffic to park at East Lawn Memorial Gardens, which is across the street from Synergy Flight Center, where the rally was being held, The Pantagraph in Bloomington reported.

Three grave markers were damaged and several graves were marked with tire tracks after vehicles drove through the muddy cemetery, The Pantagraph reported. Many of the cars were gone by the time police were called about the damage, the police chief said.

“It is deplorable what happened,” Chief Heffner said. “We are investigating this just like we would any other criminal damage to property incident.”

Charlotte Twyford of Downs told The Pentagraph that she has two relatives buried in the cemetery. She said headstones were broken and noted some people attending the rally had “a total disrespect for the graves.”

Mayor Tari Renner said he was disappointed by the news.

“It is very disturbing,” he said. “I know Trump has a rowdy crowd, but this goes beyond normal decency.”

Jim Hough, the general manager at the cemetery, said he would like to help with planning the next event so something like this doesn’t happen again.

“I don’t know what we could have done,” he told The Pentagraph. “We don’t have gates, per se. We could put in posts and chains, but then we are keeping people out who might want to get in for their family. I think, next time, I would just like the opportunity to meet with the event coordinators and help them plan, so we can avoid something like this next time.”

Chief Heffner also suggested putting up a “no trespassing” or “no parking” sign.

Bloomington firefighter Michael Hartwig said members of Firefighters Union Local 49 and Normal Firefighters Local 2442 were at the cemetery Monday helping to repair some of the damage.

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