The FBI is investigating the Memorial Day vandalism of a landmark Pittsburgh veterans monument, officials said.
The 99-year-old Doughboy Statue in Lawrenceville was doused with red paint between Sunday night and Memorial Day. Hammers and sickles were painted on the monument, along with the message “June 19, 1986! Glory to the Day of Heroism!”
City police Tuesday had not determined the exact meaning of the message or symbols, according to a public safety spokesman. Similar hammer and sickle symbols appear on the communist flag. The date could be a reference to the killings of more than 100 suspected Maoist rebels by Peruvian government security forces on the same date, according to Newsweek.
“I was pleased to hear this news, and thankful to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for getting involved in this deeply troubling crime,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “As stated yesterday, it is incomprehensible to vandalize memorials honoring those who gave their lives for our very freedom, but to do so on Memorial Day is particularly disturbing. Injuring or destroying veterans’ memorials is a federal crime, and we are very interested in helping our federal partners determine who did this and in ensuring the guilty parties are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
The vandalism drew outrage Monday and a pointed criticism from Mayor Bill Peduto. “This is not Pittsburgh,” the mayor tweeted. “Whoever did this. Please leave. Today.”
A Pittsburgh Public Works crew spent part of the holiday cleaning the statue, and Lawrenceville United created a GoFundMe page to generate $$10,000 donations for statue restoration. People had pledged $1,150 as of Tuesday evening.
The statue in Doughboy Square at Butler Street and Penn Avenue was dedicated in 1921 to World War I veterans from the city’s Sixth Ward.
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