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Police: Teens Caught Spray-Painting Civil War Memorial In Riverside Park

Graffiti spray-painted on the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial in Riverside Park. Two teens were arrested in connection with the vandalism on Thursday, Aug. 28. (Credit: NYPD)

Graffiti spray-painted on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial in Riverside Park. Two teens were arrested in connection with the vandalism on Thursday, Aug. 28. (Credit: NYPD)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teenage boy and girl have found themselves in big trouble, after they allegedly painted happy and sad faces and other silly designs on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park.

The NYPD reported the two teens were right in the middle of spray-painting their names, nonsensical doodles, and obscene words on the 114-year-old monument at 89th Street and Riverside Drive, when officers caught them in the act around 3:20 a.m. Thursday.

Police released multiple photos of the teens’ alleged work in red spray-paint – some of it in areas only accessible by climbing. What appears to be the word “rack” at the base of one of the Corinthian columns on the Beaux-Arts monument, and the words, “In God we don’t trust!” were spray-painted on the stairs.

An array of cannon balls that are part of the memorial were spray-painted with sunglasses, happy and sad faces, what appeared to be nipples, and a time bomb fuse along with the word “boom!”

But while the designs may seem silly, the two teens allegedly caught by police were facing serious charges late Thursday afternoon. NYPD Sgt. Nathaniel Herman and Officer Carmen Lesedna allegedly caught Mike Kushnir, 17, and an unidentified 15-year-old girl right in the middle of their illicit artistic endeavor.

“When responding to a graffiti call, the suspects are usually long gone when you get there,” Herman said. “But this time we got them, literally, red-handed.”

Kushnir tried to run off from the two uniformed officers, but Sgt. Herman stopped him and noticed red spray paint on his skateboard, police said. The girl had the tell-tale spray paint chroma all up and down her left arm, police said.

Kushnir and the girl were charged with multiple counts of felony criminal mischief, police said.

Kushnir, a Midtown resident, has been arrested twice previously this year for jumping a turnstile in the subway system, and has also been arrested for throwing and breaking a computer and for shoplifting from a Gristedes supermarket, police said.

Kushnir was also charged Thursday with defacing a city-owned lamp post at 88th Street and Riverside Drive in May, police said. He allegedly wrote the word “Trap” on the pole in blue marker.

The girl, who lives near the memorial, has been charged as a juvenile in the case, police said. She was also charged with criminal mischief and making graffiti in a March incident in which she allegedly tagged a neighborhood mailbox with her initials, police said.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument commemorates Union Army soldiers in the Civil War. Its first piece of marble was laid in 1900 during a ceremony presided over by then New York State Gov. Theodore Roosevelt – who also once served as commissioner of the NYPD.

The monument was unveiled in 1902, featuring a pyramidal roof and 12 Corinthian columns. It has fallen into disrepair multiple times over the past 114 years, but was designated as a city landmark in 1976 and a state landmark in 2001, police said.

Graffiti offenses in the five boroughs are up 4 percent this year compared with last year, having risen from 1,042 in 2013 to 1,080 this year, police said.

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