A cover is placed Monday over vandalism at Mill Park in Augusta, near the dog park. Police say swastikas and racial slurs were spray-painted onto objects, which police are investigating as a felony-level act and possibly a hate crime. Ashley Allen/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Multiple swastikas and racial slurs were spray-painted last week onto objects at Mill Park, an incident police are investigating as a felony-level offense and potentially a hate crime.

Staff Sgt. Eric Lloyd of the Augusta Police Department said several swastikas and racial slurs were “tagged” onto city property with spray paint, likely during the overnight hours of July 26 into July 27.

He said due to the amount of damage, the incident is considered a felony-level criminal mischief case. Depending on what the ongoing investigation turns up, it could also be deemed a hate crime.

“The total estimate of damage is well above the $2,000 threshold to make this a felony criminal mischief case,” Lloyd said by email Monday. “Also because of the swastikas and racial slurs the potential to classify this as a hate crime with the Attorney General’s Office exists. However, further investigation is needed.”

Objects painted with swastikas, slurs or both included the sign for the Augusta Dog Park, which is within the city-owned Mill Park, and a portable toilet, a Museum in the Streets historical sign and a trash can.

While plastic trash bags covered several affected city signs, swastikas were still visible Monday after one of the busiest weekends of the summer. More than 2,200 triathletes traveled to the city Sunday for the Ironman 70.3 Maine. The course did not go through Mill Park.


Lloyd said he could not say whether there are suspects in the incident or if the area is monitored by cameras.

The news comes amid an increase in activity by hate groups in Maine and across the country. Hate-based graffiti and other incidents involving white supremacist propaganda have more than doubled in Maine in recent years, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

There were 30 instances of white supremacist public demonstrations, hate-based graffiti and banner drops in Maine in 2022, up from 13 in 2018. Nationally, the number rose to 6,751 in 2022 from 1,214 in 2018.

Lloyd said Augusta’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments have been made aware of the damage.

The vandalism was widespread at the park, Lloyd said, but not in other areas of Augusta.

Public Works Director Lesley Jones said there was some writing on the pavement of Canal Street and Northern Avenue, which her department has since blacked out so it is no longer visible.

Some of the graffiti is in red paint and some in black.

Mill Park is used for a wide range of activities including a weekly farmers’ market, pétanque games and public fireworks display viewing.

On Thursday, the city of Augusta and Augusta police plan to host a family fun day there from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., with food, music and activities at no charge.

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