For the second time in less than a year, the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Boston has been vandalized.
Massachusetts State Police said shrubs and flowers were torn out of the ground and numerous flags were ripped down and thrown into a wooded area. Hate-related graffiti—including a swastika— was also written on the stone memorial, which sits on property owned by the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Authorities said the vandalism took place sometime Thursday afternoon and are reviewing surveillance video as part of their investigation.
"It's absolutely disgusting. It's demoralizing. I don't understand," said Dorchester resident Thomas Cunningham. "Both of my brothers served in Vietnam. One of them came back disabled, one of them came back in a box, and my family had come here ever since this was dedicated."
The memorial's president says he was at the site around noon. About an hour later, the vandalism happened.
"They just happened to come right after my wife and I put the flags out and decided to do the damage," said Joe Zinck. "They were here for a while."
In October, landscaping around the memorial was damaged extensively. An American flag was cut and a Massachusetts flag was taken off the flagpole and found nearby with trash dumped on top. Bricks were also thrown at the memorial which left marks on the stone.
UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman released a statement Thursday saying cameras were recently installed and that the University was committing $15,000 toward the full restoration of the memorial.
"I am horrified at this callous act of vandalism, and saddened for those veterans who are listed on the monument and their families who are still here with us. We recently installed a camera at the site after a previous vandalism incident," Newman said. "We're reviewing the footage and will help the investigation in any way we can."
"I couldn't tell you who does this," said Dorchester resident Steve Regan. "Obviously someone who hasn't suffered the loss that a lot of families have suffered."
"Somebody has no respect," said Zinck. "Somebody with very little respect for anything."
Anyone with information about the vandalism is urged to contact Massachusetts State Police at 617-740-7710 or UMass Boston Police at 617-287-6084.