For people in this small Washington town, seeing a mural honoring a local man killed in Iraq vandalized for a second time is angering.
“I think it’s disgusting," said espresso drive through owner Glenda Guerra. “It’s angered a lot of people. It’s a shame and it’s almost a personal offense to us.”
The mural was painted on a concrete railroad trestle support honoring Army Sgt. Justin Norton, who died while deployed to Iraq in 2006. Someone spray painted the words "war criminal" across the mural in green florescent paint. The person or persons also painted over the word "hero" under Norton’s name.
Norton’s father Jeff, a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy, said the graffiti hurts his family.
“Kind of a gut punch”, said Norton in a telephone interview. “We as a family are very proud of him, of Justin. And the community is really proud of him too.”
The mural was also vandalized last year. Residents repainted it.
Thurston County sheriff’s investigators have identified the man responsible for the vandalism thanks to a post on Facebook page called In Memory of Justin Norton. A sheriff’s spokesman said the man won’t be charged with a crime because he painted over a mural on railroad property and the railroad would have to file a complaint. So far that hasn’t happened. The man’s name was not made public by the sheriff’s office.
Jeff Norton said whether the man is charged or not, he’d like to talk to him.
“Just ask him why," said Norton. “What kind of statement are you trying to make by vandalizing the mural?”