Cleanup of paint at Lincoln Memorial almost done, Park Service says

The cleanup of the vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial is almost complete, the National Park Service said Thursday.

Bob Vogel, superintendent of the Mall and memorial parks for the service, said the final treatment of the green paint that was splattered on the memorial last Friday was being applied and would be removed tomorrow.

“We are almost there,” he said at a news conference. “We are hoping that the last treatment is on it today. But we have to take that last treatment off and see. ... We’re making good progress and we will be there very soon.”

The vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial was one of a string of incidents in the D.C. area. On Monday, light-green paint was discovered on an organ in the Washington National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel, in the cathedral’s Children’s Chapel and on the granite base of a statue next to the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall.

Another report Monday described paint found on a statue of Martin Luther in Northwest Washington’s Thomas Circle. Police were investigating the incident.

D.C. police said Monday evening that they had arrested a woman near one of the incidents at the cathedral.

Jiamei Tian, 58, whom police believe to be homeless, was charged with one count of defacing property.

The damage at the Lincoln Memorial was first reported about 1:30 a.m. Friday by people out for a late-night stroll. One of the women told The Washington Post that she discovered two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles overflowing with green and white paint, as well as white footprints near the inscription of the Gettysburg Address.

James Perry, chief of resource management for the park, said the green paint had a range of color depth to it. “The staining that remains to be taken off is only in two or three places at this point,” he said. “It’s pretty faint. ... We’re probably the only people that see it right now and know that it’s there.

“If we do another treatment, that will be put on this afternoon, and would ... remain on the statue overnight and be cleaned off in the morning,” he said. “It’s certainly a long process, but that’s the way you care for a historic statue like that.”

Perry said that the paint that was on the base of the memorial came off easily. But because the white Georgia marble of the statue itself is porous, experts want to proceed more cautiously.

The vandalism of the Lincoln statue blemished one of the country’s most visited attractions and an iconic symbol of freedom. In the cathedral, it tarnished what is widely known as the nation’s house of worship — and a building still under repair after an earthquake two years ago caused such severe damage that it closed for three months.

Peter Hermann and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.
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