Great Britain

Plymouth Rock vandalised with red graffiti amid celebrations marking 400th anniversary of Mayflower landing

VANDALS defaced the iconic Plymouth Rock and other historical sites in a spree that coincided with the centuries-old celebration of the Mayflower landing.

Officials discovered the landmark covered in red spray paint, which workers scrubbed away before noon on Monday in Plymouth.

The vandals also hit a seashell-shaped sign commemorating the upcoming 400th anniversary of the 1620 Mayflower landing, the Pilgrim Maiden statue, and the National Monument to the forefathers, police said.

Although much of the graffiti was indecipherable, cops told the Citizen-Times the letter and numbers MOF 508 were scrawled on several sites.

It's not clear what the numbers and letters stand for, officials said.

"Seeing this type of disrespect for the historic reminders of the Mayflower story is both sad and unsettling," said Lea Filson, executive director of local tourism agency See Plymouth.

"The outpouring of concern and anger over the incident has been a positive ending to a thoughtless gesture."

Detectives combed the rocky waterfront in Massachusetts for tossed paint cans and reviewed surveillance footage in hopes of pinning the culprits, said Police Chief Michael Botieri.

He acknowledged that the scope of Monday's vandalism attack was larger than past incidents.

Locals were disgusted, including Gayle Manning, who told the newspaper she traveled to Plymouth to witness the damage done to the monument.

"Why? Why? Why would someone do this?" she lamented.

Authorities said no arrests have been made and the site was open to tourists.

Plymouth Rock has come to represent where William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims disembarked before founding Plymouth Colony, the first puritan settlement in America, in 1620.

Through the centuries, the symbolic monument represents the religious freedom sought by the English settlers four centuries ago.

It's also the site of where the first Thanksgiving dinner was held, creating a longstanding family tradition for Americans around the country.

Police say it's unclear whether the graffiti incident is connected to the anniversary celebration, but Plymouth Rock has been a popular site for political demonstrations.

Since 1970, United American Indians of New England hold a solemn remembrance every year on Thanksgiving Day for what organizers describe as "the genocide of millions of native people, the theft of native lands, and the relentless assault on native culture."

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