At least one dozen gravestones were left damaged after a rally for Republican presidential contender Donald Trump in Bloomington, Illinois, over the weekend.
When parking for the Sunday event was limited, Trump supporters and protesters alike repurposed a nearby graveyard, East Lawn Memorial Gardens, as a parking lot. Their cars muddied the already wet ground and crushed several graves and headstones, according to WICS-TV.
After the Illinois Association of Firefighters posted a photo of the damage, several firefighters and local community members came to repair the damage left behind by the raucous Trump crowd.
“There was trash everywhere, where they had driven over numerous stones,” John Meckley, Bloomington firefighter and president of the Bloomington Firefighters Union IAFF Local 49, told WJBC-TV.”Fortunately, not all were damaged, but there were rows and rows and rows of headstones that were driven over.”
As photos of the marred gravestones spread on social media, local volunteers came to repair the graveyard. They immediately went to work with jacks, shovels and rakes to re-level several headstones and smooth out the ground that was torn up by rally-goers.
“It was a community gathering of…. this is not tolerable, this is not acceptable,” Meckley said, adding that he saw a 16-year-old girl laying flowers at each of the damaged headstones.
“It shows there’s still hope for America,” he continued.
Meckley said he is unsure how people could not tell they were parking their vehicles in a cemetery, even though most of the gravestones are flush with the ground.
Parking at Central Illinois Regional Airport reached capacity before the rally even started. There were an estimated 2,800 people in attendance, after approximately 500 were turned away once another nearby flight facility had reached capacity.
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