Carson cemetery desecrated by thieves and vandals

Monday, January 15, 2024
CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- Volunteers who help run Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson were left speechless after thieves and vandals hit the cemetery over the weekend.

"I'm extremely upset. I'm hurt, because it's like the equivalent of stepping on my mother's grave," said Aisha Woods.

Woods and Valerie Holyfield were given the keys to the cemetery after the previous owner gave up the property.

"I don't understand...society must be at its lowest point right now for people to want to vandalize a cemetery," Holyfield said.

The women said that 100 bronze plaques were stripped from the cemetery's mausoleum.

"Even though personally my son is ok and my daughter's graves are ok...I feel violated because I've grown attached to the community and the people that come here," Holyfield said.

Thieves failed to sheer off a marker on a memorial of Abraham Lincoln. However, they got away with a plaque donated by boxer Joe Louis honoring African American soldiers killed during World War II.

"It is extremely frustrating because in a million years I would have never thought that they would take either the plaque of Joe Louis that was dedicated in 1944 or Lincoln himself," said Woods.

Last week, Woodlawn Celestial Gardens across the street was also hit by vandals.

Owner Celestina Bishop said 23 headstones were desecrated or destroyed. She said many of them belong to soldiers.

Compton council member Jonathan Bowers stopped by to see the damage.

"You'll probably burn in hell," he said. "Even hell may not even want you for what you pulled here."

Woodlawn cemetery is one of the oldest in Los Angeles County and a historical landmark.

Bishop said she doesn't get any help keeping it open.

"This whole malicious intention is saying go. Run while you can. Why put yourself through a whole other year of people not understanding that I'm doing the best I can by myself," she said.

Families have resorted to using tape to mark the final resting place of their loved ones. They hope it will restore the peace to this sacred space.

Woods said authorities are investigating, and doesn't know what the thieves plan to do with the bronze plaques but suspect they will try to sell the metal. They're asking recyclers to be on the lookout.

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