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Vandals attack historic Green-Wood Cemetery

Thugs rip through historic burial ground, toppling statues and tombstones

Brooklyn Daily
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Vandals tore through Green-Wood Cemetery with a twisted vengeance on Monday night, causing more than $100,000 worth of damage as they toppled and shattered 150-year-old tombstones and statues, employees said.

Groundskeepers discovered the widespread desecration on the historical site, which was first reported by the Daily News, on Tuesday morning.

More than 40 memorials and monuments were knocked over, workers noted in Green-Wood Cemetery’s blog on Thursday.

“I have been visiting Green-Wood since 1986, and, while I recall some incidents of vandalism, I cannot remember anything on this scale or close to it,” cemetery historian Jeff Richman wrote. “Gravestones were pushed over and shattered. Urns were cracked and pushed off their bases. Four marble crosses were toppled — three of them broke into pieces.”

But the vandals didn’t stop there: the thugs scratched out porcelain photographs of those interred. Another porcelain picture was smashed with a rock said Richman, who was amazed that the vandals were able to scale the cemetery’s cast-iron fence that surrounds the immense property between Fifth and McDonald avenues in Greenwood Heights.

“We have an around-the-clock, 24-hour car patrol of the grounds,” Richman said. “We have video cameras mounted throughout to discourage vandals. But, sadly, no cemetery security system is a guarantee against vandalism.”

Cemetery employees didn’t identify which tombstones and statues were damaged, but did say that a security camera recorded one of the vandals.

The footage was handed over to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force, who are investigating the vandalism as a bias crime.

Green-Wood Cemetery opened in 1838 and became the final resting place for a host of historical figures and celebrities, including artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, musician Leonard Bernstein, William Meager “Boss” Tweed, and Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code.

This is not the first time vandals had desecrated a Brooklyn burial ground. In 2010, more than 200 tombstones were spray-painted, then knocked over inside Washington Cemetery on Bay Parkway. Vandals also decapitated several religious statues found outside of Visitation Academy in Bay Ridge earlier this year..

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the NYPD CrimeStoppers hotline at (800) 577–8477. All calls will be kept confidential.

Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at or by calling (718) 260-2525.

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