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Graffiti at historic cemetery prompts volunteers to take action

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BATON ROUGE – Randomly-worded graffiti popping up in the capital city is quickly coming down.

The latest tagging upset many. The sign for the oldest African-American cemetery in Baton Rouge was defaced with spray paint. The disrespectful act encouraged others to spring into action.

“I have some hours for some Pro Bono Baton Rouge clean-up,” said Treuil Montague, who owns M&M Industrial. “It's not a problem."

Montague spent Wednesday morning washing away spray paint that was still visible on the fence at Sweet Olive Cemetery.

“I'm not sure if there was any meaning behind it being painted at the cemetery, or if it’s just… 'Here’s a wall,'” he said.

It only took Montague 15 minutes to get rid of the writing that included the phrase "my south side clipboard." He used a hose filled with water, air and baking soda.

“It’s an eyesore for everybody, so with my equipment it’s an easy fix,” he said.

The brick fence wasn't the only place the cemetery was tagged. On Monday, a volunteer noticed the sign out front was also covered in red and black spray paint. The writing there was more aggressive, stating the word ‘kilerz.’ A local pastor removed the spray paint Tuesday night.

“I am totally surprised and overjoyed to see the people respond so quickly,” said W.T. Winfield, the cemetery board president.

Winfield says he couldn't believe someone would deface the sacred burial site.

“Golly, what a horrible act to desecrate the cemetery where only dead people are,” Winfield said. “Nobody is doing anything to anybody. So to be that vicious and down-hearted, it just hurt me. It really hurt me."

Winfield says those bad feelings are now lifted seeing so many generously remove the spray paint.

“It’s restored my confidence,” he said.

Before making his way to Sweet Olive Cemetery, Montague cleaned up graffiti at a Veterans cemetery nearby on North 19th Street. Councilwoman Tara Wicker says the vandalism has been popping up in her district in recent weeks. Police believe it’s likely being done by the same person. They are investigating to find out who that person is.


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