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St. Louis park hit by pro-Occupy graffiti

St. Louis park hit by pro-Occupy graffiti

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UPDATED at 1 p.m. with comments from president of preservation society.

ST. LOUIS • Graffiti that appears linked to a confrontation between Occupy protesters and police at Compton Hill Reservoir Park last week has appeared at the park.

The graffiti, which includes phrases like "CLASS WAR,"  and "COPS, PIGS, MURDERERS," was sprayed on buildings, walls and statues at the park on Grand Boulevard just south of Interstate 44.

Paint on a door labeled "park police" reads "ONLY THE BLOOD OF THE RICH WILL STOP OCCUPY." 

Police have not released any information about the graffiti incident yet.

The park was the site of a confrontation Thursday night between Occupy Midwest protesters in town for a regional conference and police trying to enforce a park curfew. More than a dozen protesters were arrested. Two of them were injured.

A police car window was smashed in the incident. No officers were hurt.

The home of Eddie Roth, public safety director for the city, was also hit by graffiti sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The words, "Blood on your hands" was spray-painted on the front steps of Roth's house in the 3600 block of Flad Avenue. Police said Roth's steps were hit by vandals on Jan. 1 or 2 as well. That time, the steps were spray painted with the words, "We never forgive - Occupy."

Susie Chasnoff, 60, of University City, a participant in Occupy St. Louis, says the acts of vandalism were not official actions by the Occupy St. Louis movement.

"I am not condoning it," she said. "I frankly don't know who is doing it, but clearly it is an attempt to express anger and frustration. It speaks to frustration that people feel over a hopeless situation with the police."

In an emailed statement, Roth said he and his family are "annoyed" about the vandalism at his home but grateful to have received many "thoughtful expressions of concern."

Roth said he doesn't think the vandalism "is representative of the Occupy movement in St. Louis, which is one of the reasons we have tried to keep it low-key. But it does point out the need for the Occupy participants who are passionate but responsible to push back against the few who are intent on being destructive."

John Maxwell, president of Compton Hill's Water Tower and Park Preservation Society, said Tuesday he has spoken to a representative from the Occupy movement who apologized and said the movement does not condone such behavior.

He said graffiti at the park is not a new problem.

"This is the first time we've really had political statements," Maxwell said of the graffiti. "Our graffiti up until now has been gang-related."

Maxwell said a city vandalism clean-up crew is expected to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible, probably before the end of the week.

"I'm bothered by it, but it's not something I'm going to lose sleep over," Maxwell said.

The painted words "CLASS WAR" on the brass Naked Truth statue will have to be removed carefully so as not to damage the patina, or protective coating, Maxwell said.

The statue was undergoing restoration and that will continue once the paint is removed, Maxwell said.

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