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Middleton school, park tagged with vulgarities, pentagram, swastika

Lawrence Moody uses a power washer to blast away graffiti on the back wall of the Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton July 16. He and Cheryl Nogler, school custodial staff, spent the entire day getting rid of 52 separate instances of graffiti on the school walls.
Lawrence Moody uses a power washer to blast away graffiti on the back wall of the Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton July 16. He and Cheryl Nogler, school custodial staff, spent the entire day getting rid of 52 separate instances of graffiti on the school walls. - Lawrence Powell

MIDDLETON, NS - The graffiti artist who spray-painted a disparaging remark about the police on the concrete entrance of Annapolis East Elementary School on the weekend only had to look up to see the surveillance camera.

When the police showed up they had no problem seeing the bold, black message to them that featured the f-word, or the camera that Const. Cheryl Ponee said captured the suspects in action.

She said suspects spray-painted vulgarities and hate towards the police, on windows, the entrance, and at Rotary Park that is separated from the school by a chain link fence.

Cheryl Nogler stands next to a door that was covered with graffiti at Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton. She cleaned numerous windows and doors that had been marked with vulgarities, obscene drawings, and symbols such as swastikas.
Cheryl Nogler stands next to a door that was covered with graffiti at Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton. She cleaned numerous windows and doors that had been marked with vulgarities, obscene drawings, and symbols such as swastikas.

On almost all the windows across the front of the school, crude, spray-painted genitalia marked the panes. Blue and black spray paint was used. There was also a swastika, the number 666, and references to sexual acts.

Custodial staff at the school spent almost all of Monday, July 16 scraping, washing, wiping, and pressure-washing the school to get rid of 52 separate instances of graffiti. They started at 7 a.m.

Lawrence Moody tackled the brick and concrete with the pressure washer. By about 2 p.m. his back was killing him but he only had a few more tags to go. One that he still had to get rid of said “gang life” and was one of the biggest.

“Normally we’d be upstairs doing our summer clean-up, but they said that’s on hold today, this is the priority,” said Moody.

When he first saw the graffiti he described those who did it as disgusting. “I found out yesterday. My son called me from Ontario. He said ‘have you seen the school?’ Then I got a call from my boss. I came down yesterday and kind of did a little recce. The police had already been here with Nancy (Illsley) the principal.”

His son had seen videos on Facebook that showed the graffiti in its entirety.

Moody’s been on the job 17 years and while he’s seen a few little things, like beer cans and condoms, he’s never seen anything like the graffiti damage he faced Monday. He recalled a pumpkin thrown through a window, and a flaming soccer ball that stuck to the outside wall while it burned. The concrete still carries the scars from that incident.

“I was shocked. I came into work and had no idea,” said Cheryl Nogler. “I said ‘oh my God.’”

Nogler used scrapers for the windows, removing the crude penis drawings. She said it was a disgusting thing to have to do.

“It was every window,” she said. She wet them down with a disinfectant and then scraped the paint off. “It was a breeze but it was time consuming.”

Moody said one of the pieces of graffiti took about an hour and a half to get rid of.

This is the only instance of graffiti in the pavilion at Rotary Park in Middleton that could be published in a newspaper. The rest were too vulgar or obscene.

Rotary Park

In the concrete riding park bowl and the pavilion at Rotary Park other graffiti greeted Town of Middleton recreation staff. But there was little doubt it was the same suspects.

While some of the words are not suitable for print, one tag said “666 the number of the beast,” another said “it’s my Life Style,” and another was a pentagram. The graffiti on the inside walls of the pavilion was even more disturbing and included what may have been intended to be a pentagram but was actually a Star of David, lips and tongue, obscene words, people’s names, and reference to sex acts.

Andy Kerr, the Town of Middleton’s Programs and Communications Coordinator, said they’d been experiencing the graffiti over the last few weeks in the park.

“We could not keep ahead of it,” he said Monday afternoon. “I always feel bad running our programs out of the pavilion each day when it looks like that. This time I felt so sorry for the school as it was so blatant and because small kids could see it.”

He said the town plans to clean up the graffiti as quickly as possible, noting it takes considerable time. And it’s just a few days until the annual Heart of the Valley Festival that takes place at the park.

It was almost exactly a year ago that major graffiti damage and vandalism at the park stunned residents of Middleton, people known for their love of sports and pride in both their park and recreation programs. A car was driven into the skate park bowl, cracking the concrete, highland games equipment was damaged, and the grandstand was damaged.

Police eventually solved that crime.

“It’s demoralizing for all the staff. They work extra hard each day to provide a pleasant, clean, and professional framework for citizens of all ages,” said Kerr of the latest vandalism. “Internally we have to deal with anger, morale boosting, and putting on a strong face but we still have to pull off the programs.”

He said it was a a summer staffer who brought the school graffiti to his attention.

Graffiti at the skateboard park bowl at Rotary Park wasn’t all as tame as this. The bowl, and the park’s pavilion, where recreation programs are run, were both the subjects of crude graffiti over the weekend and over the past few weeks.
Graffiti at the skateboard park bowl at Rotary Park wasn’t all as tame as this. The bowl, and the park’s pavilion, where recreation programs are run, were both the subjects of crude graffiti over the weekend and over the past few weeks.

“We’re fortunate that our staff (summer and permanent) are smart and mature and know that the programs and events have to go on,” he said.

Kerr said incidents have been happening for the past few weeks.

“There was even broken glass on the track and in the skate bowl the other morning,” he said. “We think we may have a lead on the social media account of a tagger but we hope the police can take that investigation over. We also hope that with the recent frequency that the chances of being caught also increases.

Const. Ponee said the Annapolis District RCMP investigation is continuing.

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