Vandals deface school, condos with vulgar messages | News

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Vandals deface school, condos with vulgar messages

CUMBERLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Sometime late Saturday night, vandals using cans of green, red and gold spray paint defaced several buildings, including the Greely Middle School, with foul language, vulgar images and even swastikas.

"We are a community who does not do this, this is not who we are," stated Kimberly Brandt, Greely Middle School's principal.  "We are very welcoming, this is a safe place, this is an inclusive place, and that is who we are.  So, that graffiti is not related to who we are as a community, and that is what makes it so sad, and a little bit scary, too."

Once police were able to take photographs and collect evidence at the scene, the school's custodial staff went to work cleaning up the paint on the side of the school.  Most of the graffiti was cleaned up before students arrived for classes on Monday.

"There were some drawings, some foul language, there were two swastikas there," added Brandt.  "There was no direct threat articulated in the graffiti, however putting swastikas on a building we take seriously, as do the police."

"It was pretty extensive.  There were several surfaces that were hit," explained Kirk Mazuzan, an officer with the Cumberland Police Department.  "We're talking brick, glass, vinyl just to name a few, so we are talking a pretty high repair and damage costs."

Officer Mazuzan says the person or people responsible may also face enhanced penalties under the state's 'hate crime' laws because of the offensive symbols and language used to attack several religions.  He says they will consult with the state attorney general's office to determine if the crime was indeed a hate crime.

"This doesn't define us as a community," said Mazuzan.  "It is never fun for us to deal with it.  We like to not have these things happen, obviously, and we are a community that likes to make our residents feel safe, and this does not make us feel safe."

Staff and students at the middle school were informed about the graffiti, and there were counselors made available if students needed to talk about the incident further.  An email was also sent out to parents to make them aware of the situation.

In addition to the damage done at the school, several nearby condominium units were vandalized as well.  There were several with paint sprayed on their siding, doors and windows.  Apparently nothing was out of bounds as a car and an American flag were also defaced.

"Any information is helpful," said Officer Mazuzan.  "We'll explore any lead at this point.  We'd like to try to find an end point to this and resolve it quickly."

Anyone with information is urged to call the Cumberland Police Department at 829-6391.



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