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Monument for fallen police officers spray-painted with #Justice4AnthonySmith

A memorial for fallen law enforcement officers was recently spray-painted with #Justice4AnthonySmith.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

A memorial outside the state Capitol honoring fallen law enforcement officers was vandalized Saturday with a reference to protests taking place in St. Louis.

The vandal or vandals used red spray-paint to write “#Justice4AnthonySmith” in large letters across the base of the memorial. Anthony Smith was shot by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley in 2011, and Stockley’s recent acquittal has sparked protests by racial justice advocates.

The message was on prominent display to attendees of the Madison farmers’ market Saturday morning. Crews have worked to remove the spray-paint this weekend, but as of Sunday the message was still visible. Capitol Police are investigating the incident.

Many were quick to condemn the message, citing that it was both unlawful and disrespectful to police officers who died in the line of duty. The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the largest law enforcement union in the state, called it “a slap in the face to all those in law enforcement … [and] to the freedoms that their courage preserves.”

“This a disgraceful and unconscionable desecration to the officers of every race, creed and color recognized on this memorial for paying the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities,” the WPPA said in a statement.

UW-Madison’s College Republicans shared WPPA’s statement on Facebook with the caption: “[We] stand with law enforcement and condemn this vandalism on a monument dedicated to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to their communities.”

But Claudia Koechell, the press secretary for the university’s College Democrats, told The Daily Cardinal “the current system has failed many communities of color, and it is not our role to police their responses to oppression.”

“We honor those who have worked and continue to work to make our communities safer. This includes those working to change our systems of justice so that our most marginalized communities are protected and served by our justice system as well,” Koechell said. “Our country needs to focus on seeking justice and reforming our criminal justice system, and not focus on the reversible damage of the memorial.”

Protests in St. Louis have been ongoing since the verdict came down in Stockley’s case Friday. Although many attendees have been peaceful, at least 10 law enforcement officers were injured Friday night when some protesters became violent.

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