A children’s sculpture honoring a city retiree was spray-painted with red X’s, and light bulbs from a soccer field gazebo were tossed in the grass at two Rock Hill parks this week – the latest in a string of similar incidents in which park fixtures and landmarks have been targeted, causing more than $3,500 in damage this month, police said.
On Tuesday, police met with a city Parks, Recreation and Tourism employee who reported that sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, parts of Cherry Park had been vandalized, according to a Rock Hill Police report made available Friday.
Light fixtures hovering above the park gazebo next to the soccer fields had been damaged and the light bulbs removed. Police later found the bulbs on a hill near the gazebo. Graffiti was scrawled on the restroom building next to the playground and a nearby meeting building. The sign in front of the restrooms and another sign in the playground had been vandalized, along with a nearby picnic table.
Police estimate the vandals caused up to $3,000 in damage, the report states.
Two hours later, a park supervisor at Glencairn Garden told police that she found red and blue spray paint on the children’s sculpture, unveiled in January to honor retired Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism director Ed Thompson. The letters “BSD” were etched on the sculptures, and a red face with a dash for the mouth and two X’s for the eyes were drawn on the statues, causing about $150 in damage, according to a second Rock Hill Police report
On Monday, police met with another parks employee who reported that someone spray-painted a racist remark on a sign in Cherry Park, causing about $50 in damage. Vandals on Dec. 7 caused up to $400 in damage at Cherry Park when they spray-painted several racial and homosexual epithets on park signs, pathways, electrical boxes and trees in the park.
It’s unclear if the incidents are related, said Rock Hill Police Capt. Brent Allmon, adding that those details likely will not come to light until suspects are identified and charges are filed.
The city’s parks fall within one of nine police-designated patrol zones and are patrolled daily as are other businesses and residences in the same zone, Allmon said.
The parks do have on-site security staff and surveillance video that helpuncover suspect identities, said John Taylor, city Parks, Recreation and Tourism director.
Spray-painted sculptures and damaged light bulbs do not “deter what we’re trying to do. ... We’re proud of our parks,” Taylor said.
“If we have vandalism, we’re going to get in there and take care of it as soon as it happens,” he said, adding that parks employees are working with police in the investigation. “We’re going to actively go after folks who are doing this damage.”
Money to repair damage by vandals comes from the department’s general fund budget, he said, which includes money for general maintenance and storm damage repair.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082