The National WWI Museum and Memorial’s dedication wall in Kansas City, Missouri was defaced early Tuesday morning, according to police.
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said two men were responsible for the vandalism spray painted “Xs” over the faces of World War I generals and “communist symbols” just before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the department’s blog. They also spray painted a message referencing the 1986 prison revolts in Peru.
The suspects retreated after they were yelled at by a driver, who notified police about the behavior.
"To desecrate the National World War I Memorial and Museum is both illegal and stupid. It insults the tens of thousands of men who gave their lives so that we might continue to have the right to express our political beliefs,” Smith said. “Who knows what kind of oppressive government we might be living under had those men not given their lives?”
“We, as a police department, will not tolerate the desecration of one of the most beloved landmarks in Kansas City, and we know the community won’t either,” he added.
Smith, who said the police department has “solid leads” on the suspects, also said the suspects may be linked to other vandalism episodes this week in Kansas City. Police believe the suspects also defaced a church, bridge, and a vacant building Tuesday morning.
Matt Naylor, president and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, said that while the museum embraces protesters, another approach could have been taken, according to NBC-affiliate 41 Action News, which first reported the incident.
“This is Kansas City’s front porch,” Naylor said, “It’s very disappointing to see people would cause damage here to this memorial.”
“We welcome protesters, we’re a free-speech campus and the tragedy is that they didn’t need to do damage to the memorial to make their point,” Naylor said.