|29 April 2007
Petroglyphs vandalized, tagged with gang graffiti
Petroglyph National Monument is the latest target of an ongoing battle between Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) gangs bent on proving dominance, this time by vandalizing the hallowed and historic park with graffiti. At least eight large basalt boulders at the southern edge of the escarpment were marred with gang initials, or tags, written in silver metallic spray paint.
In the following days, tags had been removed from all but three boulders at the top of the ridge. Monument Superintendent Joseph Sanchez said his staff was hoping to complete the cleanup very soon. "We're sending a message that we're out there watching, and that such vandalism won't be tolerated and will be dealt with immediately," Sanchez said. No petroglyphs - ancient symbols carved in the rocks as far back as 3,000 years ago - were damaged by the spray paint, and no other lasting injury to the rocks was noted, Sanchez said.
Vandalism in the monument is rare but does happen on occasion, he said. But one neighbor said it was the first time she could recall seeing such vandalism at the south end of the escarpment. Petroglyph officials said it was too soon to estimate the cost of the damage and cleanup. Sanchez said costs can add up quickly because the biodegradable cleaning process must not harm lichens and other native vegetation. Care must be given, too, to the spiritual nature of the land. Some American Indians, he said, believe the area is sacred.
Sanchez said park archaeologists, cultural and natural resource experts, law enforcement officers and park rangers were called in to handle the cleanup process. "We're charged with the preservation and protection of the site for future generations," Sanchez said. Damaging monument property is punishable by fines or incarceration; heftier penalties apply under the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act if it can be proved that the suspect deliberately intended to damage the petroglyphs, Fuller said.
To report information on the graffiti vandalism at Petroglyph National Monument or to report other vandalism call 899-0205, (800) 227-7286 or 452-5206.
Source: The Albuquerque Tribune (25 April 2007)
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