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Crews work to clean graffiti off of rocks near Missouri Institute of Natural Science south of Springfield

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 11:43 AM CDT
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NEAR SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -

Vandals painted graffiti on a rock outcropping on county property over the weekend near the Missouri Institute of Natural Science just south of Springfield.

Most of the graffiti is covered with paint to hide the hateful language and symbols. Matt Forir, Greene County’s geologist and director of the Missouri Institute of Natural Science, heard about the vandalism on Saturday.

On the sidewalk, someone painted the words “White Lives Matter.” There was also offensive language, a swastika, and another white supremacist sign from Nazi Germany, the SS lightning bolts.

Forir called the Greene County sheriff’s office, and then he and his 9 year old son took to painting over the graffiti. He says the paint job became a teaching moment for his son.

“I had just read last week, as a matter of fact, it’s at the best majority of millennials don’t understand anything about the Holocaust,” Forir says, "and I found that to be a little disturbing, because if given a chance, history can and will repeat itself.'

“The reality though, is that the kids who do this, and most of the time it’s white kids between the ages of 15 and their early 20s, don’t understand the impact of what they’ve done,” says Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-defamation League. “So the intent may be completely just in their own heads, having fun or doing something stupid.”

The Anti-Defamation League keeps an eye on cases like this, helping law enforcement understand hate symbols. They say most graffiti cases like this are not intended as hate crimes, but the white supremacist symbols can still cause great harm.

'Even if their intent was not to harm somebody individually, the impact spreads far and wide pretty quickly," says Aroesty.

“We had a lot of positive comments on our Facebook page at the museum, thanking us for covering up the stuff as quickly as we could,” Forir says. “We want people to feel comfortable and safe, and who wants to bring their kid out and see curse words and racist symbolism all over the place? It’s just not right.”

The ADL says most cases like this don’t get solved, but the Greene County Sheriff’s office is investigating. If you have any information give them a call.

The Greene county highway department started cleaning up the paint Monday afternoon with the graffiti remover they had on hand. A local company plans to finish the job in the morning.

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