Dozens of volunteers from across western Illinois spent their holiday weekend scrubbing swastikas from more than 200 headstones across the Sunset Hill Memorial Estates Cemetery in Glen Carbon, Illinois, ahead of the community's annual celebration of fallen service members, the New York Times reports.
- The Sunset Hill Memorial Estates Cemetery is home to more than 1,400 graves of U.S veterans; the 13,000 residents of Glen Carbon mark each Memorial Day with the same tribute each year, including “a balloon release, wounded warriors speak and the cemetery displays hundreds of flags,” according to the New York Times.
- The defaced headstones were found by cemetery employees at 7:15 AM on Saturday morning, superintendent Mark Johnson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which noted that “this is the first time vandalism of this magnitude has happened at the cemetery.”
Hundred headstones were painted with swastikas at a Sunset Hill Memorial Estates Cemetery in Glen Carbon https://t.co/h8TCZ3XMoT
— Laurie Skrivan (@LaurieSkrivan) May 26, 2018
- Volunteers managed to remove the graffiti from nearly all 200 headstones and other monuments by Sunday afternoon, and local restaurants sent food and water to keep workers and Good Samaritans going through the weekend, according to the New York Times.
- The suspect, a 34-year-old man, was in custody as of Monday, the Edwardsville Police Department announced on Facebook. Surveillance footage purportedly showed the alleged vandal walking through the cemetery around 2:14 AM on May 26.
While the suspect will likely incur crimes related to the vandalism, Glen Carbon Police Lt. Wayne White told the New York Times they “expect” country prosecutors to hit him with hate crime charges as well: “The fact that he did this on Memorial Day weekend is inexcusable and disgusting behavior that we’re not going to tolerate.”