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Vandalism and Reconsecration

In August 2003, two men- Michael Ray Griggs and Adam George Field- vandalized two Mexican American cemeteries, Cementerio de San Pedro and Cementerio Guadalupe, in San Marcos, Texas.  They damaged over 200 graves, possibly making this one of the most massive grave desecrations in the history of the United States.  Although cemetery vandalism is suprisingly common, little is written about cemetery vandalism, and scholars have almost completely ignored it.

Because of the magnitude of desctruction and the fact that the twenty-something year old vandals drove from one Mexican American cemetery at one end of town to another Mexican American cemetery at the opposite end of town, some people were concerned  that this might have been a hate crime against Catholics or Hispanics.  Others were concerned that it might have been gang-related.

Christian Bolden, a graduate student in Sociology and Anthropology at Texas State University who studies gangs, briefly investigated gang attitudes toward cemetery vandalism.  He found that gang vandalism is geared more toward activities like graffiti, and cemetery vandalism is not their modus operandi.  Interviews with former members of the Bloods, Crips, Kings, and Surenos revealed unanimous disapproval of cemetery vandalism.  Big M, a former Sureno, declared, "Na-uh, my crew wasn't down with that.  We would graffiti a whole bunch of stuff- graffiti stores and vandalize other things- but we would never direspect a memorial."

Perhaps the vandals attacked the Mexican American cemeteries because they are more marginalized and vulnerable.  Unlike the San Marcos City Cemetery, which is centrally located, locked and guarded every night, the Mexican American cemeteries are located at the edge of town and are not well-secured and protected.  Until more research is done, it will be difficult to understand why this happened and what can be done to stop it.


Vandalized Grave Markers

It was difficult to get pictures of the vandalized sites because most of the vandalized grave markers were immediately repaired by the families of the deceased.


Reconsecration

Because Catholics should be buried on holy or consecrated ground, and the vandalism of 2003 desecrated the cemetery, Bishop Gregory Aymond chose All Saint's Day to re-conserate both the Guadalupe and San Pedro cemteries.  Above, Bishop Gregory Aymond surrounded by local members of the Knights of Colombus, re-consecrate Guadalupe Cemetery, Novermber 1, 2003.