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Cleanup begins after Bloomington man defaces Washington Monument with red paint

Shaun Ray Deaton, 44, of Bloomington, was charged with trespassing, tampering and vandalism.

WASHINGTON — A 44-year-old man from Indiana was arrested after allegedly using paint to vandalize the Washington Monument Tuesday evening.

According to a statement from the United States Park Police, the man defaced an area at the base of the monument. The National Mall landmark is temporarily closed.

National Park Service conservators are working on restoring the monument, but say that process could take several weeks. 

Locals and tourists came out to the monument to see the vandalism. Reactions to the painted message were mixed.

"No matter what people think and feel, they have no right to destroy historical property like this," one woman said.

"I don't know how someone could just walk up and completely vandalize the Washington Monument, of all things," a man said.

"Not that I support this, but I understand that sometimes you got to make a statement," one woman said.

It's not the first time a monument has been vandalized. In 2013, someone splashed green paint on the Lincoln Memorial's steps. Charges against the woman suspected of the vandalism were eventually dropped.

Park Service crews also had to remove red graffiti from one of the Lincoln Memorial's column's in 2018. They explained the process for removing paint from historical stone in a press release.

The Park Service explained that a mild, gel-type architectural paint stripper that is safe for use on historic stone is used. The treatment is applied and allowed to set on the stone for about an hour, then rinsed with clean, potable water. After each application, the condition will be reviewed to determine if additional applications are necessary. Treatments will be applied as necessary until all evidence of the vandalism is gone.

Mike Litterist of the National Park Service said crews were on site Wednesday morning to begin the clean-up process.

Park Police identified the man arrested as Shaun Ray Deaton from Bloomington, Indiana. 

Credit: WUSA9
A man was arrested after using red paint to vandalize the Washington Monument, US Park Police said.

Deaton was charged with trespassing, tampering and vandalism. Police say this is an initial criminal charge and, as the investigation continues, there may be additional charges.

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