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Spray painting at Village Green may warrant felony charge

KINGSTON — The person or persons that spray painted obscene words and images at Village Green Park over the weekend did more than create cleanup work for other people.

They may have committed a hate crime.

State law says anyone who “Writes, paints, or draws any inscription, figure, or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure or any real or personal property owned by any other person” is guilty of third-degree malicious mischief, a gross misdemeanor; if the cost of cleanup is $750 or more, the crime is second-degree and a felony.

But among the words painted at the park were the N-word and a derogatory term for a gay man. That may warrant a charge of malicious harassment, a class C felony, according to a sheriff’s officer investigating the case.

According to state law, a Class C felony is punishable by a sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Village Green Park District chairwoman Bobbie Moore said the district will seek restitution.

The malicious mischief was discovered around 9 a.m. Sunday by a Windermere Real Estate employee who took her daughter to see the cleanup work she and other Windermere employees did two days earlier for the company’s Community Service Day. She was shocked by what she saw: The poles, tables and floor of the pavilion were marred by spray painted words and images, many of them obscene. The fire extinguisher had been discharged. On Kingston Creek, in the forest above the pavilion and playground, a new bridge built on Friday was marred by spray paint. Several trees on the trail had also been tagged.

Monday morning, Moore was visibly upset as her husband, Walt Elliott, scrubbed graffiti off the poles and tables at the pavilion. Moore said she didn’t understand why someone would damage something that had been created for their benefit. The Village Green, at one time the site of dilapidated former Navy housing, was acquired by the community. First, the park was built. Apartments for older residents are under construction; a community center, library, and Boys and Girls Club are next. And a P-Patch garden was created, with a kiosk and garden shed built by this year’s Leadership Kitsap class.

Meanwhile, volunteers continue to make improvements to the park. On Friday, Windermere employees cleaned the tennis courts, removed blackberry bushes and planted native plants, installed signage, built the bridge over the stream, and refreshed the bark in the playground. Of the malicious mischief, Moore said, “One person can make a whole lot of people feel really bad.”

A reward is being offered by the park district for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects. Call (360) 337-7101 during business hours or 911 during non-business hours.

 

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