The Washington Post
Indiana man charged with vandalism
A man charged with vandalizing the Washington Monument with red paint told police he traveled to the District from his home in Indiana and had planned the act for some time, according to an arrest affidavit filed in court Wednesday.
U.S. Park Police said in the affidavit that the man, 44-yearold Shaun Ray Deaton, was holding a paintbrush and had red paint on his pants when officers approached and handcuffed him on the National Mall on Tuesday night. Police said they found a can of red paint next to him.
But neither the affidavit nor a brief court hearing revealed a
possible motive. Photos showed a vertical splash of red paint on the base of the 555-foot-tall marble obelisk, along with obscenities and a reference to “Gov.”
Deaton, who lives in Bloomington, pleaded not guilty in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday to a destruction- ofproperty charge and was released and ordered to return for a hearing Oct. 11. The judge ordered him to stay away from the area around the Washington Monument. His attorney and the prosecutor did not discuss the charges in detail at the brief hearing.
Deaton’s attorney described her client as being homeless. His brother Adam Deaton, who lives in Bloomington, said his brother had recently been laid off from a job answering phones at an IT company and was upset after being denied disability.
Adam Deaton said his brother had been living with him but disappeared a few days ago. He said he had no idea where his brother had gone until he saw news accounts of the incident in D.C. Adam Deaton said he tried to track his brother’s phone but that it had been left in a local library, which he believes was done “to purposely throw me and others off.”
Adam Deaton said his brother “paid a lot of attention to what was going on in politics” but did not know of any grievances beyond having been denied benefits.
Police said in the arrest affidavit that Shaun Deaton told them that he had planned his actions a while ago and that there was “more to come in the future.” Police estimated the damage at more than $ 1,000. Police also said that they found Shaun Deaton’s Subaru Forester in a parking garage near the Mall and that it contained no explosives or other harmful material.
National monuments in the District have been repeatedly vandalized in past years.
In 2020, a man was arrested after graffiti was painted on the Lincoln Memorial during social and racial justice demonstrations. In 2017, police said someone painted an expletive directed at law enforcement on a column of the same memorial.
Four years earlier, police said a woman with mental health issues spattered paint at several landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington National Cathedral, a statue next to the Smithsonian “Castle” on the Mall and on a statue of Martin Luther in Thomas Circle.
Tuesday night’s incident targeted the monument, which stands south of the White House and the Ellipse on the Mall, and is one of the most recognized symbols of Washington and the United States.
The National Park Service said Wednesday morning on Twitter that its monument preservation crew had begun work to remove the paint. The tweet said the “top layer of paint is coming off and the pigment that seeped into the stone will be treated with many rounds of cleaning product application.”
By midafternoon, the park service tweeted a photo of the monument with the paint fully removed.