Marquette vandalism

From the Father Marquette statue being defaced twice to the ‘GERKO’ graffiti spree, vandalism has attracted more attention than usual in marquette in the last year.

Now there’s more of it.

Someone recently tagged a lamppost on South Front Street, just north of the roundabout, with an obscene phrase.

The marquette police say they’ve had more vandalism reports this summer than in years past. They don’t know why that is, and they say it makes them angry.

“We do everything we can to solve it and bring the people to justice, and we make sure that our court system, prosecutors and probation officers and judges are aware of the ramifications of what they’re doing,” Marquette Police Det. Capt. Gordie Warchock said.

They did catch the ‘GERKO’ vandal. Alexander Watanen of Marquette pleaded guilty Monday to three misdemeanors in that case.

But the statue vandals and the most recent vandal have not been found yet.

Barb Kelly of the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee says it’s difficult to delve into the mindset of someone who would damage public property, but she says the damage is an insult to anyone who cares about Marquette’s quality of life.

“They obviously have some sort of a problem if they need to do this, but it also creates problems for the rest of us who try really hard to beautify this community,” she said

A Marquette-area resident notified the police about the offensive graffiti over the weekend, and it’s since been painted over, but there’s no way to know how long it had been there.

The Beautification Committee has been studying how other communities handle vandalism.

The group may propose to city officials that the police create a vandalism hotline.

“The way they handle it in other cities is, they have an immediate response time because they’ve found that if people don’t get an immediate response, they don’t tend to call the hotline,” Kelly said. “They send somebody out, they document it with pictures and then it’s gone.”

In the meantime, Det. Capt. Warchock is asking residents to keep their eyes open.

“If they see something that they think is a new tagging, alert our department to it so that we can look into it,” he said. “This is a serious thing to us, and we always treat this as serious.”

That’s how Watanen was caught. A witness saw him tag a dumpster in late July and reported him.