Crime

‘Illegal and stupid’: KCPD chief links WWI memorial graffiti to 3 other crimes

Vandals spray paint Liberty Memorial dedication wall

Vandals spray painted the busts on the dedication wall of the Liberty Memorial in the early morning hours on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
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Vandals spray painted the busts on the dedication wall of the Liberty Memorial in the early morning hours on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

After graffiti was found on the National World War I Museum and Memorial early Tuesday in Kansas City, the police chief decried the actions of the vandals and said the same people might be responsible for three other acts of vandalism in the city.

The investigation started after someone called police, saying they saw two individuals spray-painting graffiti on the Dedication Wall on the north side of the Liberty Memorial, shortly before 1 a.m.

The graffiti appears to reference the June 1986 prison revolts in Peru where 250 inmates died.

The vandals also painted a communist hammer and sickle symbol and “Xs” across five bronze busts of Allied leaders.

In a blog post, Police Chief Rick Smith said the department had “solid leads” and were continuing to investigate. He said police were also looking into three other overnight reports of vandalism at a church, a bridge and a vacant building elsewhere in the city, thought to be connected to the graffiti found at the WWI memorial.

“To desecrate the National World War I monument is both illegal and stupid,” Smith wrote. “It insults the tens of thousands of men who gave their lives so that we might continue to have the right to express our political beliefs. Who knows what kind of oppressive government we might be living under had those men not given their lives?”

“We, as a police department, will not tolerate the desecration of one of the most beloved landmarks in Kansas City, and we know the community won’t either.”

Local cleaning and restoration professionals volunteered to clean the wall Tuesday.

Anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.
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