Fifteen headstones were vandalized with blue paint at a historic cemetery for black residents in Austin, Texas.
The defaced memorials at Evergreen Cemetery – established in 1926 as the city’s first major municipal graveyard dedicated to black residents – were covered in blue spray-paint sometime over the weekend before being discovered Monday, KVUE reports.
“At the end of the day, the black community is all damaged,” Victor Reed, an Austin man whose grandfather is buried at the cemetery, told the station. “We’re all damaged because of this. We got them disgracing our dead. That’s just a sad sight.”
Reed said his grandfather’s grave was not targeted by whomever vandalized the cemetery, but thinks the blue spray-paint on headstones throughout its grounds represented a “sore” for the entire city.
Austin Parks and Recreation officials are now working with affected families to clean up the paint while an investigation by Austin police is ongoing, the station reports.
De’Nerick Taylor told the Austin American-Statesman that the headstones of his great-grandparents, Ezekiel and Ethel Hill, were among those targeted at the cemetery, where 12,000 are interred.
One of the headstones was spray-painted with the word “Kirk,” while another was defaced with an infinity symbol. Several other markers had the names of archangels from the Bible painted onto them, the newspaper reports.
Taylor, meanwhile, said the vandalism did not appear to be random as he vowed not to give the culprit any pleasure by keeping a positive outlook.
“No, I’m happy,” Taylor said. “Because guess what? This is going to be taken care of. To me, it’s like the sun is shining, even though it’s raining. They thought they were going to dim my light. They didn’t do anything but let us come out here on visitation day.”