National World War I memorial vandalized with graffiti urging 'Don't Vote!' before it opened as a polliing site

  • The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, was defaced hours before it was scheduled to open as a voting site on Election Day.
  • Two unidentified individuals around 3:45 a.m. spray-painted messages including, "Don't vote," "Fight for revolution," and the hammer-and-sickle symbol of the USSR.
  • Despite the vandalism, around 700 voters turned out for a "seamless" voting process, an official told Insider.
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The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, was defaced hours before it was scheduled to open as a voting site on Election Day.

According to video footage from the museum, two unidentified individuals spray-painted graffiti on both sides of the entrances to the memorial around 3:45 a.m. on November 3. The two vandals spray-painted "Don't vote," "Fight for revolution," and the hammer-and-sickle symbol of the USSR.

The museum discovered the symbols a few hours later and covered it with a large tarp. Around 5:30 a.m., people began gathering at the museum, which was also acting as a polling location for the 2020 US presidential election.

"It's distressing that people would choose to deface a national memorial," Dr. Matthew Naylor, the president of the museum, told Insider. "And that they would choose to do that around a time where we are making ourselves available for people to participate in the Democratic process."

Naylor emphasized that despite the site's role as a polling location, the museum is "non-partisan." 

"We see a link between our mission and encouraging people to be involved in the Democratic process," Naylor added. "We're non-partisan. We're not representing or advocating for any particular positions."

Law enforcement officials were notified and are investigating whether it was an attempt to intimidate voters.

Naylor said it was not the first time the memorial had been vandalized but added it was "exceptionally rare." Several local companies volunteered their services to remove the graffiti on the building. Although some of the outlines of the recent vandalism were still visible, Naylor estimated that it would be removed in about a week.

"We are confident that it will be completely removed," Naylor said.

Despite the vandalism, Naylor estimated there were around 700 voters who turned out for a "seamless" and safe environment.

In 1919, plans were announced to construct a monument in honor of those who served in World War I. Around $35 million in today's dollars were collected by Kansas City residents and memorial groups for the project at the time; and eventually, $102 million was raised to restore and expand the memorial. 

The site was designated by Congress as the official World War I Museum in 2004, and two years later became a National Historic Landmark. 

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