There’s “virtually no evidence” of the vandalism to the Washington Monument less than 24 hours after it was splashed with red paint, park officials said Wednesday.
“Crews will hit it again tomorrow morning,” Mike Litterst, of the National Park Service, told WTOP Wednesday afternoon, “give it one or two more treatments just to get any last remaining portions, but it’s largely cleaned at this point.”
Crews used chemical compounds and pressure washing to remove the red paint from the monument. The heavy layer of paint was easily removed Wednesday morning, but the paint that soaked in to the porous marble took a bit longer.
Not as long as officials had feared, though.
Litterst said the cleanup job was sped up by experience and some luck. “Similar cleanups of this type of have taken sometimes a couple of weeks to produce a 100% removal,” Litterst said. That’s because marble is a very porous stone, and it’s easier for the paint to really sink in than into a stone such as granite. There are also different kinds of marble, and different kinds of paint, all of which react together differently, he added.
In 2013, when someone threw green paint on the Lincoln Memorial, “That was the better part of two weeks before they were able to get it all out,” Litterst said.
But they’ve learned since then: “Crews, each time they go out and do this, they tweak a procedure a little bit, or learn a new trick of the trade,” Litterst said.
Thursday morning, the workers will be back out at the monument, but “just a couple more rounds of that and I think they’ll be prepared to call it good,” he added.
Shaun Ray Deaton, 44, of Bloomington, Indiana, was arrested just after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’s been charged with trespassing, tampering and vandalism. Police said he doused the marble monument in latex-based paints, and graffiti painted at the base of the monument reads, “Have you been f**ked by this / Gov says tough sh*t.”
Litterst said the incident shouldn’t affect the visitor experience.
Graffiti and political messages are nothing new on the mall. In the summer of 2020, the World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial were both vandalized during protests.
WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.