BENNINGTON, N.Y. (News10)-An historic Bennington cemetery that suffered damage to 200 headstones in October has once again been struck by vandals. This time, police say they have identified the suspects. As News10’s Anya Tucker reports, the chief of police is offering a chance for restorative justice to the accused youths with an opportunity to help cleanup and repair the gravesites.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, Jr. showed Anya the damage at the Morgan Street Cemetery, saying the vandals used a pole to push over the headstones. “Knocking them over. You can see where they have landed on top of the grass,” he told her.
This is unfortunately not the first time his officers have responded to the cemetery for this kind of destruction. In October, approximately 200 headstones were toppled over and vandalized. Many of the stones mark Bennington, Vermont’s oldest gravesites- some belonging to children and veterans going back to the Revolutionary War era.
After that act of vandalism, police began their investigation. At the same time, a small army of volunteers lead by a non-profit organization named the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, helped make the delicate repairs.
But fast forward months later, it appears that vandals have struck once again, with 10 more headstones knocked over this past weekend. Chief Doucette says this latest incident happened late Sunday afternoon. He told Anya that the alleged culprits were identified thanks to alert resident who called police, offing a detailed description. Two juveniles have since been interviewed by officers.
“We are really hoping to get restorative justice out of these violations,” said the police chief. He says the unidentified kids are being offered a chance to try to make things right, as they and their parents are invited to join in during a May 27th clean-up day at the cemetery. It was a pre-scheduled event after the last incident of vandalism that occurred in the fall. “That should send a message,” he added. “We are not trying to put everyone into the court system and have everyone have a record. We want people to be held accountable for their actions. We are lacking that.”
If you are interested in supporting the Morgan Street Cemetery and the people who are leading the effort to repair the headstones on Saturday May 27, email Bennington Communications Coordinator Jonah Spivak at email@example.com or call: 802-445-1335.