The statue of the Blessed Mother on Copley Lawn was vandalized over the weekend, bringing the total number of such incidents to three in the past month. Previously defaced on February 22, the statue was painted a second time sometime early Saturday morning. A statue of former Georgetown professor and World War II hero Jan Karski was also defaced in early March.
The Department of Public Safety was unsure about the specific way in which the statue was painted, but according to Catholic Student Association President Kevin Kuehl (SFS ‘11), who spoke to multiple eye witnesses, “there was red paint coming from the face, particularly the eyes, and dripping down.” The statue was restored later that day.
According to Sergeant Joseph Smith, DPS has asked the Metropolitan Police Department to cooperate with the University’s investigation of the vandalism. He also said that DPS is increasing its patrols of campus, especially in areas containing sacred objects or spaces.
“We are taking serious measures and hope to apprehend the perpetrator,” Smith said.
The University is taking measures to address the damage done not only to its property, but also to the resulting fallout within the Georgetown community. According to Julie Green Bataille, Associate Vice
President for Communications, officials from Student Affairs held a meeting with some students over the weekend and are planning another meeting to receive further student input into what the University’s next steps should be.
Because the investigation is still ongoing, Smith did not say whether DPS suspects that the vandals are Georgetown students, nor whether the incidents may be linked.
Both Kuehl and Joseph Kapusnick (SFS ‘10), Grand Knight of Georgetown’s Knights of Columbus, expressed a desire to raise awareness on campus of what the crime means to Georgetown’s Catholic students.
“Increased security is great,” Kuehl said, “but it will not solve the problem of religious intolerance … This act was more than vandalism; it is desecration.”
The crime is considered destruction of property under the laws of the District of Columbia. According to the Georgetown University Student Code of Conduct, the punishment for a single incident of defacement of property can range from housing probation to disciplinary suspension for up to two years and more severe penalties based on the facts of the case.