RACINE — Steve Bedard started giving school tours of Mound Cemetery a few years ago as a way to fight back against vandalism.
Bedard, the cemetery supervisor, wanted to give children a better understanding of the deep history of the roughly 50 acres at 1147 West Blvd., which has been used as an American Indian burial grounds and is the final resting place for war heroes from as far back as the Revolutionary War.
Vandalism dropped off since then as kids gained respect for the people buried there, Bedard said.
That made the discovery Monday that 24 gravestones were damaged and pushed off their bases all the more upsetting.
“It’s just unbelievable, in my opinion, that someone would come in here and do this,” Bedard said.
The headstones were damaged or pushed over sometime between Friday and Monday. Police say some of the damaged stones date back to the 1880s and, because of the materials used, are irreplaceable.
As of Tuesday afternoon, police did not know who was responsible and if the vandalism was done by one person or a group.
“We’re hoping that someone will come forward with that information,” police Sgt. Jessie Metoyer said.
Bedard is still assessing the damage, though he knows at least some of the stones can be put back together and brought upright. He’s not seen vandalism on this scale at Mound Cemetery in years, he said.
Depending on the amount of damage, the offender or offenders could face a felony charge of criminal damage to property, Metoyer said. Police could also seek charges of criminal damage to religious property, which is also a felony.
Police will look to prosecute the offenders to the “fullest extent of the law,” Metoyer said.
“Anytime you see something like this, it’s disheartening to see such callous disrespect,” Metoyer said.
Police seek information on cemetery vandalism
Anyone with information that could assist the police investigation is asked to contact the Racine Department Investigations Unit at 262-635-7756.
People may also contact Crimestoppers at 262-636-9330, or by texting RACS #TIP417 plus your message to CRIMES (274637).