Saturday, May 05, 2007

HARD TO BELIEVE... GRAFITI BY GANG MEMBERS

Petroglyph National Monument is the latest target of an ongoing
battle between Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) gangs bent on proving
dominance, this time by vandalizing the hallowed and historic park
with graffiti. At least eight large basalt boulders at the southern
edge of the escarpment were marred with gang initials, or tags,
written in silver metallic spray paint.

In the following days, tags had been removed from all but three
boulders at the top of the ridge. Monument Superintendent Joseph
Sanchez said his staff was hoping to complete the cleanup very soon.

"We're sending a message that we're out there watching, and that such
vandalism won't be tolerated and will be dealt with immediately,"
Sanchez said. No petroglyphs - ancient symbols carved in the rocks as
far back as 3,000 years ago - were damaged by the spray paint, and no
other lasting injury to the rocks was noted, Sanchez said.

Vandalism in the monument is rare but does happen on occasion,
he said. But one neighbor said it was the first time she could recall
seeing such vandalism at the south end of the escarpment.

Sanchez said park archaeologists, cultural and natural resource
experts, law enforcement officers and park rangers were called in to
handle the cleanup process. "We're charged with the preservation and
protection of the site for future generations," Sanchez said.

Damaging monument property is punishable by fines or incarceration;
heftier penalties apply under the federal Archaeological Resources
Protection Act if it can be proved that the suspect deliberately
intended to damage the petroglyphs, Fuller said.

To report information on the graffiti vandalism at Petroglyph
National Monument or to report other vandalism call 899-0205, (800)
227-7286 or 452-5206.

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