'Rowdies' deface historic grave markers

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By JEAN LOTUS

Employees at Forest Home Cemetery, 863 Desplaines Ave., reported seeing a group of 12 people police referred to as "rowdies" scrawling graffiti on memorials on May 22 around 3:15 p.m.

Workers said they saw the visitors writing on the Haymarket Memorial Monument and the headstone of labor leader Emma Goldman. Police could not identify which of the 12 was the vandal, and they were escorted off the property with no charges filed.

Last May the monument was spruced up for the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket incident, said Mark Rogovin, of the Historical Society of Forest Park. A bronze laurel wreath stolen years before was replaced by the Illinois Labor History Society and the monument was rededicated on May 1.

"There are almost always flowers, pennies and union buttons and candles at the monument," said Rogovin. "The usual things."

He said the NATO events earlier in the month in Chicago spilled over to Forest Home. He added that graffiti from people who identify themselves as anarchists - and often use the circled letter A as a symbol - appears often on the monument.

"Anarchists will do whatever they want," he said.

Rogovin said he noticed new markings in pen today on the plaque that quotes a statement from Illinois Gov. John P. Altgeld, who pardoned the Haymarket protesters in 1886, four years after four of them had been hanged. 

 "F--- you too little too late. You can never take the knowledge of bomb-making from the working class!" "We will avenge you. R.I.P." The 'A' in avenge was written as the circle-A anarchy symbol.

On Goldman's tombstone, Rogovin said, the following was scrawled, along with a circle-A anarchy symbol:

"We will forever live by your example, R.I.P." and "We carry on the fight" and "Our struggle lives on forever. We love and miss you. Over 1,000 take up in your stead."

A comment written in Dutch comment read, "Voor altijd in ons hart" or "you are always in our heart."

Rogovin, a labor historian, said on one hand he didn't think Goldman would terribly mind the expressions of support from her fans, but she would respect the dead.

"She was a real anarchist, but she would want people to respect the martyrs and the monument of the workers," Rogovin said.

Mario Garcia, Forest Home Cemetery grounds foreman, said as soon as they were alerted to the graffiti, groundskeepers applied chemical graffiti remover to the pen marks.

"We tried right away before it penetrated, but now it's sunk into the stone," Garcia said.
He said it was tough to pin the graffiti on a specific group.

"So many bunches of kids come in and they leave, and another bunch of kids come. Anybody can jump the fence and go by the Haymarket [monument]," Garcia said.

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