July 30, 2013

Police: Woman arrested in DC cathedral vandalism

It isn't yet known whether the splattering of paint there is related to similar vandalism to the Lincoln Memorial and another statue last week.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Police said they are investigating whether a woman arrested in the splattering of green paint inside two chapels at the Washington National Cathedral has any connection to two similar incidents on the National Mall.

click image to enlarge

Green paint is seen on the pedestal of the statue of Joseph Henry, outside the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall in Washington, Monday, July 29, 2013. U.S. Park police say the marring of the Smithsonian's first secretary was discovered on July 26, the same day that the Lincoln Memorial was splattered with green paint. The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History is seen in the distance. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

click image to enlarge

A U.S. Park Police officer stands guard next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the memorial in Washington on Friday after someone splattered green paint on the statue.

The Associated Press

Jiamei Tian, 58, was arrested Monday inside the cathedral shortly after the paint was found and charged with defacing property, police and cathedral officials said. Investigators were hoping to question her about the vandalism on the Mall, including the splattering of green paint at the Lincoln Memorial, but a language barrier was complicating those efforts, Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said after the arrest.

It was not immediately clear if Tian had an attorney. Police believed she was homeless. No motive was given.

Green paint was found early Friday morning on the Lincoln Memorial, and symbols have also been found painted in green on another statue on the Mall. The Lincoln Memorial was closed temporarily but reopened later Friday.

Sgt. Paul Brooks, a U.S. Park Police spokesman, said it was too early to tell whether the same person was responsible for the vandalism at the two Mall landmarks. He noted that while the paint appeared to be splattered indiscriminately on the memorial, the statue appeared to have been deliberately painted. The symbols on the statue were not immediately decipherable.

Officials at the cathedral discovered the paint inside two chapels Monday afternoon. It was still wet, which led them to believe the vandalism had just occurred. Officials called police immediately and closed the cathedral to visitors while authorities searched the grounds. The paint was splashed onto an organ and on the floor inside the cathedral's historic Bethlehem Chapel on the basement level, officials said. It was also found inside Children's Chapel in the nave of the cathedral.

Also Monday, U.S. Park Police said green paint was found on the statue of Joseph Henry outside the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution on the Mall. Henry was the Smithsonian's first secretary.

Meanwhile, crews continued working Monday to remove the paint from the Lincoln Memorial. The National Park Service said progressively stronger substances would be used until all the paint is gone, which could take several days. The memorial was scheduled to be power washed Tuesday.

Cleanup and restoration work at the cathedral was expected to cost $15,000, cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said. Crews were there late Monday, and events at the cathedral were going on as scheduled. Some of the paint was splattered onto the decorative wall behind the altar in the Children's Chapel, which has ornate wood carvings that required some restoration, Weinberg said.

Bethlehem Chapel was opened in 1912 and is the oldest section of the cathedral. It was the site of President Woodrow Wilson's burial rites, and his remains were entombed there for more than three decades. Wilson's remains were later interred in a memorial bay on the cathedral's main level.

Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral that serves as the nation's spiritual home. It has hosted inaugural prayer services and the state funerals for presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)