- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2020

The graffiti on the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial has received the most attention, but a total of 12 statues and memorials were defaced by vandals during recent rioting that spread to the National Mall, according to the National Park Service.

The other monuments vandalized were the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the U.S. Navy Memorial, as well as eight statues, including the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India’s nonviolent independence movement.

Park service spokesman Mike Litterst said the damage was limited almost exclusively to graffiti and that the repairs are being handled by staff, adding that the cost would probably be “negligible.”

“We have architectural conservators and a monument preservation crew on staff, so it’s all being done in-house,” Mr. Litterst said in an email.

The park service posted photos May 31 of spray-painted messages and profanity on the Lincoln Memorial plaza and World War II Memorial after the March 30-31 weekend, which saw peaceful protests as well as violent rioting spurred by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a June 1 statement that the service is “restoring our national icons to their rightful state — places that recognize the wars fought, battles won, heroes that have come before us and injustices that have been overcome throughout history.”

The statues damaged were those honoring American Revolutionary War heroes John Barry and Casimir Pulaski, as well as Civil War military figures David Farragut, James McPherson and George Thomas, all of whom fought for the Union forces.

Statues of U.S. statesman Daniel Webster and Anglo-Irish statesman/philosopher Edmund Burke were also defaced. The repairs to the Gandhi statue are being handled by the Embassy of India.

In Lafayette Square, park service personnel made repairs recently to a vandalized statue of Revolutionary War Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, as shown on Fox5 video.

“Our First Amendment is the bedrock of our democracy,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “It is disturbing that anyone would deface and damage our wonderful national memorials and parks. This is not a representation of who we are as a country or as a people, and it is not to be tolerated or condoned.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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