Last Modified: Friday, August 10, 2012 5:43 PM
Word of more vandalism along our city’s lakefront — this time at the Veterans Memorial Park — raises the question of the perpetrator’s sensibilities.
Sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning, someone defaced bricks bearing World War II veterans names and service history with paint at the park. A glass in a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter was broken and officials suspect vandalism caused it.
The damage represents another insult to the good residents of Southwest Louisiana. Though not as severe, it’s just as mindless as the arson that razed most of Millennium Park nearly 19 months ago.
The community rallied and Millennium Park was rebuilt better, but it took corporate and individual donations to cover some of the costs and sweat equity by hundreds of volunteers to accomplish it.
We’re confident that the damage at Veterans Memorial Park will be erased, and it will be made whole again. But the hooligans who did it leave, if not a physical scar, certainly a psychological one.
So far, there have been no arrests. Scott Raymond, communications manager for the city of Lake Charles and the city’s liaison to the Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission, has asked for help from the public to solve the crime. Anyone with information can call police at 491-1311. That’s the first step way the general public can help.
Just like the Millennium Park tragedy, the Veterans Memorial Park damage will require the city to install video cameras to deter any copy cats and snare any dimwit that tries a repeat of this besmirching.
All vandalism is senseless, but this latest episode is particularly perturbing because it mars what should be hallowed ground, a peaceful plot on our lakefront’s edge dedicated to the memory and to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces.
Such idiocy is not limited to Calcasieu Parish. Earlier this year, three teenagers were arrested for painting obscenities and graffiti on more than a dozen graves in three different Jeff Davis Parish cemeteries.
After pleading guilty, they faced a sentence of up to six months in jail or up to two years in prison, depending on the amount of damage they cause. What they got was three years supervised probation, restitution of $16,000 each, an order to clean and maintain Jeff Davis Parish cemeteries and to write letters of apology to the people whose loved ones’ graves were painted.
In the Millennium Park incident, an arrest was made and a suspect charged with arson, but he was found not guilty. So far, whoever put a match to the park has not had to pay for their dastardly deed.
The point could be made that the moderate sentences in the Jeff Davis case and the lack of a conviction in the Millennium Park case has, if not emboldened these latest misfits, has done nothing to dissuade them.
Hence if there is ever an arrest in this latest case or another one in the Millennium Park arson case, we expect prosecutors to levy the most serious charge the law will allow against them, and if there is a conviction, we expect, no demand, that the judge in the case punish the guilty severely as a warning to other would-be vandals that these acts will not be tolerated to areas we hold so dear.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.