Community fights back after vandals target Rutland cemeteries

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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) This isn't the first time Tom Giffin has dealt with vandalism at the West Street Cemetery.

"You can see all the ones we've been working on, it's a lot of work," Giffin said. "It's unfortunate but it's what's happening."

He says people have knocked over the headstones of some of Rutland's oldest founding members, some dating back to the 1700s. Now, the once-open cemetery will remain locked.

Down the street, we found another cemetery had also been targeted.

"How could someone do that?" asked Mary Rachel Voity, who works across the street from the West Street Cemetery.

Voity says vandals have also struck her business.

"We've had problems with graffiti, as well," she said.

One of the buildings on their property has been tagged multiple times.

"There's no need for tagging," Voity said. "We're a small community, we should be helping and making things pretty and not destroying them."

"I've been patrolling the city and noticing a lot of tagging in the city," Rutland Police Ofc. Emilio Rosario said. "If someone was coming from out our city that is coming into our city they would want to see what our city has to offer, not graffiti."

So Rosario started a project where he and work crews would take care of any graffiti.

"You know we're going to keep doing it. We're going to keep painting over it and we're going to make sure the city looks good. No need for graffiti," Rosario said.

As for Giffin, he didn't feel he had enough information to report this to the police. Instead, he wants to look on the bright side of a sad situation.

"I think a lot of positives come out of this because people have seen the damage and they want to see it fixed," Giffin said.

He tells us he's getting help to do that from volunteers and from local schools.