Washington Monument ‘largely clean’ after vandalism; suspect identified

The Washington Monument was virtually clean Wednesday afternoon. (Courtesy National Park Service)

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: A U.S. Park Service employee removes graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
A U.S. Park Service employee removes graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: A U.S. Park Service employee uses cleaning solvent to remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
A U.S. Park Service employee uses cleaning solvent to remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 21: U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Police say a man is in custody after allegedly vandalizing the base of the Washington Monument with red paint early Tuesday night. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Police say a man is in custody after allegedly vandalizing the base of the Washington Monument with red paint early Tuesday night. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Police say a man is in custody after allegedly vandalizing the base of the Washington Monument with red paint early Tuesday night. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: A U.S. Park Service employee removes graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: A U.S. Park Service employee uses cleaning solvent to remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: U.S. Park Service employees remove graffiti on the Washington Monument on September 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Overnight, a vandal wrote graffiti and threw red paint onto the the base of the Monument. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said one man was in custody in connection to the incident. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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.

Arrest

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.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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