WTOP's Dick Uliano
At the African-American Civil War Memorial
WASHINGTON - They survived slavery and the Civil War, but the memory of the men whose names are etched in steel couldn't survive the indignity of D.C. street violence.
Gunfire has damaged the African American Civil War Memorial at 10th and U streets Northwest.
"These people apparently got their hands on weapons and started shooting at each other," says Frank Smith, founder of the memorial and the director of the African American Civil War Museum, who says teenagers exchanged gunfire Thursday night outside the memorial, shattering two glass panels of a nearby bus stop.
"Fortunately no one was injured," Smith says.
A bullet whizzed by the bronze statue depicting soldiers and a sailor, sparing the statute, but damaging one of the stainless steel panels on the memorial's Wall of Honor, which is inscribed with names of more than 209,000 troops who served in the Civil War.
"It's right at the crease where these two panels come together so it didn't tear up any of the names," Smith says.
"We don't know anything about the shooters," says D.C. City councilmember Jim Graham, who expressed disappointment over damage to the memorial.
"It's extremely sad, because the memorial is special, it's one of the most important local memorials of national significance that we have," Graham says.
Smith is confident that the memorial can be promptly repaired.
"It's minor damage when you look at the overall project, but the fact of the matter is it's an eyesore and something we ought to take care of right away," Smith says.
The memorial is on National Park land and Smith plans to ask the Park Service for speedy repairs, along with other maintenance, including repairs to lighting at the 16-year-old memorial.
If there's any delay by the federal government in repairing the gunfire-nicked memorial he'll ask the city to fix it, Graham says.
D.C. Police and U.S. Park Police are investigating the shooting.
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