When a threat to the president, anti-military messages, anarchy symbols and a reference to George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" appeared scrawled over an American flag mural in Castle Rock, police …
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When a threat to the president, anti-military messages, anarchy symbols and a reference to George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" appeared scrawled over an American flag mural in Castle Rock, police asked for the public's help in gathering information about the vandalism.
The well-known "American Heroes" mural is located beneath the bridge on Meadows Parkway leading into The Meadows and depicts a waving American flag with silhouetted military figures.
Graffiti discovered on Nov. 16 included messages written over the figures such as “No justice, no peace, EVER!” and “Welcome to 1984.” Another expletive-filled line read “Kill him” in reference to President Donald Trump.
By Nov. 21 police still didn't know who defaced the mural or why, said Castle Rock Police Department spokesman Joe Cybert. No cameras are in the area and tips hadn't turned up a suspect.
“We've been in consultation with the United States Secret Service,” Cybert said regarding the threat to Trump. The department has also seen the "1984" reference on social media before but does not believe there's a connection to the "American Heroes" incident, he said.
While the investigation got underway, Castle Rock residents were quick to act in restoring the mural. An estimated 75 community members gathered under the bridge on Nov. 21 to paint over the graffiti. Among them were members of the police department, local Boy Scouts and veterans.
The “American Heroes” mural was originally painted by Janene DiRico-Cable, Ken Cable and Bruce Makinney as part of the police department's Art Around the Rock project. The program began in 2014 and aimed to deter crime — including graffiti — by installing public art throughout town.
DiRico-Cable said she “got cold chills” when she heard how many community members gathered to restore her mural. She painted several murals in the Art Around the Rock program, dedicating more than 400 hours to the project.
“For this to happen to one of the murals is sickening but to have the community come out and actually say, 'This is not right,' I love that,” DiRico-Cable said. “It makes me feel like all of my time was actually well spent and that others value the project and what the police officers are trying to do.”
Last year, local Eagle Scout Jefferson Dirks spent hundreds of hours with his father planning and organizing boy scout troops to repaint the mural, which had grown weathered since 2014.
Dirks, now a 16-year-old junior at Douglas County High School, was back Nov. 21 to help the latest restoration efforts.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little angered,” he said in reacting to the vandalism. “But I moved past that quickly.”
Dirks believed the only way to make things right, he said, was to be productive and join efforts to clean up the graffiti. He plans to check on the mural in a few weeks to help monitor its maintenance.
Vance Nixon — a U.S. Army veteran — also took part in the cleanup. Wearing camouflage pants and a gray “ARMY” t-shirt, The Meadows resident said he was grateful to the people helping Nov. 21.
Nixon served in the U.S. Army for 10 years and completed three tours in Iraq. One reason he moved to Castle Rock was the community support for veterans, he said.
Kevin Bracken, the recently elected District 3 town councilmember, also brought his daughter to help. With a paint roller in hand, Bracken said he came to support the town's veterans.
Cybert said anyone with information is encouraged to contact police. The department's tip line is 720-733-3517. People can also email CrimeTips@CRgov.com.
“We're still looking for some leads,” Cybert said Nov. 21 of the investigation, but surrounded by people covered in paint, he was impressed with the community's response. “It's pretty significant.”
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