For the second time in less than four months, a mass number of headstones were knocked over at the historic Downey Cemetery.
The toppled headstones were discovered Saturday. According to District Coordinator Lorena Arellano, by her count approximately 28 monuments were vandalized.
Public Works staff were already on site on Monday morning to repair the damage but were hesitant to proceed with repairs due to slippery ground conditions caused by the weather.
With the possibility of rain, staff added that it is possible that nothing will be repaired for at least a week.
They also estimated that the repair job would cost at least $2,500 factoring in man-power, equipment and materials. The Downey Patriot is currently attempting to contact officials in the Public Works Department to verify this information.
The cemetery suffered a similar occurrence back in September of last year, when around 25 headstones were knocked over.
According to Arellano, headstones had been knocked over before, but September's event was the first time that it had happened to so many memorials at once.
Staff also said that individuals practicing ritualistic practices such as Santeria have been a common issue on the grounds.
Arellano says that Cemetery Board members are currently attempting to secure funds and are having discussions on installing gates, lighting, and potentially a better wall to help safeguard the cemetery.
The board will meet next on Feb. 6 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
The vandalism also caught the attention of LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who released a statement in regards to the cemetery, saying,
"After headstones in the Downey Cemetery were toppled by vandals for the second time in less than four months, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn proposed using County resources to help install new security measures to protect the cemetery.
The Downey Cemetery currently is protected only by a three foot perimeter wall and no gate. It is also poorly lit, which allowed vandals to knock over headstones without being seen.
In order to help prevent future vandalism, Supervisor Hahn has proposed stepping in with county funding to help pay for the installation of a gate or fencing as well as lighting within the cemetery.
'The repeated toppling of these headstones not only cost the City of Downey thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay for repairs, it was disrespectful to the memories of the people buried in this historic cemetery,' said Supervisor Janice Hahn. 'I know that this cemetery operates under a small budget so I want to see what I can offer from the County to help.'
The Supervisor’s office are in talks with the Cemetery Board members and City of Downey officials to work out details about what type of upgrades are necessary, their cost, and how they might be paid for."