Crews spent Monday cleaning up Plymouth Rock and other monuments that were vandalized with graffiti over the weekend in Plymouth, Mass.
The letters “MOF” and the numbers 508 covered the rock and its inscription. Vandals defaced the Pilgrim Maiden statue and the National Monument to the Forefathers, as well as a bench that honors the daughters of the colonists who arrived in Plymouth on the ship Anne in 1623 and four colorful artworks in the shape of scallop shells, said Melissa G. Arrighi, the Plymouth town manager.
The floor of the Half Shell Band Stand was also damaged. The Plymouth Police Department is investigating the vandalism.
Ms. Arrighi said she felt a mix of emotions after learning of the graffiti, which was discovered early Monday morning.
“Outrage. It was disappointment. It was disgust,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “The level of disrespect and not caring about public property and the historic community, it’s shocking.”
Lea Filson, executive director of the tourism group See Plymouth, said she was “heartsick.” She said she is a descendant of pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower.
“This is the first place families arrived in the New World to begin a colony,” she said. “This is the only example of Native peoples and English colonists to agree to a peace alliance and keep it for over half a century.”
Ms. Arrighi said crews from the town and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and a volunteer, Jake Mowles of East Coast Power Washing, helped remove the graffiti. She posted photos of the restored landmarks on social media.
“They look good right now,’’ Ms. Arrighi said, adding that some areas would have to be treated with chemicals because red paint had seeped into the stone. Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II museum are in Pilgrim Memorial State Park, which draws more than a million visitors to Plymouth’s waterfront each year, according to the state.
It’s not uncommon for the rock to be vandalized. In 2014, vandals painted the word “lies” on the monument. At the time, a state spokesman told The Boston Globe that “this kind of thing happens two to five times a year.”
The most recent vandalism took place as Plymouth, a coastal town on the South Shore of Massachusetts, is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony with exhibits, tours and conversations about early pilgrim life.