More than a dozen headstones at the Rosemound Cemetery in Commerce were vandalized with paint and graffiti some time in the last two weeks, the Commerce Journal learned Friday – and some of the graffiti included references to a violent street gang.
A local resident whose family members’ headstones were among those spray-painted said that when he reported it to the Commerce police, they told him they knew about it and were investigating.
The Commerce Police Department did not issue a comment when contacted by the Commerce Journal, with Public Safety Director Chris Bassham saying that he cannot comment on an open investigation.
It did not appear that the vandalized headstones bore any commonality such as belonging to persons of the same race, faith or other identifiable group.
On Friday, the Commerce Journal received a tip from Jake, who asked to not have his last name disclosed for fear of retaliation. Jake said he went to the cemetery Friday morning to visit the graves of some of his family members when he saw that several headstones near the far eastern portion of the cemetery had been spray-painted.
He then contacted the Commerce Police Department, who, Jake says, told him that they were notified of the vandalism roughly a week ago but did not have any answers yet as to who did it.
Jake added that he was told about a video of an altercation involving a group of teenagers in the cemetery that was posted on the social media platform Snapchat about two weeks ago. He said Commerce police told him they aren’t sure if the video and the vandalism are connected.
A family member of some of the deceased who’s graves were vandalized posted clips of the videos on Facebook on multiple posts about the vandalism. The Commerce Journal reached out to the Facebook user and received copies of these videos and forwarded them to the proper authorities.
The Journal visited the cemetery Friday afternoon and found what looked to be more than 20 grave markers and headstones that had been spray-painted in blue, at the cemetery’s east end. Most of the headstones that had been painted over simply had a line of blue paint effectively “crossing out” the name of the deceased, while some graffiti included the word “Crip,” which is the name of a notorious street gang that claims blue as its signature color. A smaller number of headstones and markers had vulgar phrases on the in spray-paint.
The vandalized headstones belonged to people come from multiple time periods, with some of them having passed more than 50 years ago; the randomness of those whose stones and markers were targeted made it seem like a truly random act, Jake noted.
He called it a senseless, reprehensible act.
“It’s really messed up that someone would do this,” he told the Commerce Journal. “These are people who can’t do anything to defend themselves.”
Anyone with information relating to this incident should call the Commerce Police Department at 903-886-1139.