LAFAYETTE -- Vandals who knocked down several dozen crosses that are part of a memorial to U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan may not have been politically motivated, said the memorial's founder.
About 70 of the approximately 4,000 crosses that are part of the Crosses of Lafayette display, just north of the city's BART station, were kicked or pushed down sometime between Thursday evening and Friday morning, according to coordinator Jeff Heaton. The attack was less severe than some earlier incidents, he added, and while some crosses were damaged, none were defaced or marked with graffiti.
Heaton said it has been about a year and a half since the last vandalism there.
The culprits were likely "just some local teenagers who were angry or whatever," he added.
"The purpose of the memorial is a place where people can experience and release the grief they have about loved ones who have died, or about so many people being injured or dying in the war," Heaton said. "This may have just been some teenagers who are frustrated because they are not supposed to experience their grief."
The memorial drew attention, complaints and occasional vandalism after it was erected in 2006. Heaton had been planting one cross on the hillside for each of the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as the space became more crowded, volunteers have allowed the more than 4,000 crosses to stand in representation of all the lost lives.
Police responding to the scene took a few metal crosses in the hope that they might yield fingerprints, Heaton said.
Plans to convert the site into a more permanent memorial once U.S. troops have left Afghanistan have been on hold since Louise Clark, who owned the land, died in 2011.
As for the crosses, volunteers cleaned up the site Saturday and will likely replace them next weekend, Heaton said.
"I don't really let it bother me too much at this point," he added.
Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.