Vandalism, including spray paint saying, “Land Back,” an anarchy symbol and expletives about Christopher Columbus, was found at Indian Hill Cemetery in Middletown on Monday, a day observed as Indigenous Peoples' Day and Columbus Day.
Police said the brownstone wall and sign for the cemetery were vandalized and the cleanup is estimated to cost several hundred dollars.
A person who was driving by and noticed it contacted police just after 10:30 a.m. Monday and police responded. They believe the vandalism happened overnight hours.
The cemetery is on Washington Street. Police are investigating and checking the area for witnesses and video evidence of what happened.
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Police said the sign and wall have been covered and staff who work at the cemetery are working on a plan to begin cleanup efforts.
Police said they also determined that expletives about the police were spraypainted on another smaller segment of the brownstone wall that was not visible to the public.
This comes at a cemetery, that was established on land once owned by the Wangunk tribe. American colonists bought the land in 1770 and it has been a cemetery since 1850. The website for the cemetery says it was established as part of the America Beautiful movement, and there are graves of families from all the European countries, the Far East, Africa, as well as this area's first settlers and descendants.
Some people who spoke with NBC Connecticut say they don’t support the vandalism but sympathize with the sentiment.
“I am part Native American so I can understand where the anger and frustration are coming from,” said Naasir Hickman of Middletown.
Police say they are not aware of previous vandalism at the cemetery but on the sidewalk outside the entrances is a faded spray-painted message, “Occupied Land.”
Ethan Barrett is a Wesleyan University student and well versed in American History. He calls Christopher Columbus a, “false hero.” He doesn’t condone the vandalism but understands the message.
“I understand the anger and the vitriol that people have. We celebrate Columbus Day when, in reality I don’t think we should be celebrating at all. Today should be a day of mourning,” Barrett said.
During a news conference on Monday, police said the anarchy symbol left behind is one they’ve seen associated with other incidents.
Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Jason Tetrault at the Middletown Police Department at 860-638-4000.