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Vandals Trash SF's AIDS Memorial Grove Again, Causing Costly Damage

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Vandals struck the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park this weekend for the second time this month, according to Rec and Park officials.

Unknown vandals damaged five large trees, memorial engraved stonework, two benches and plantings over the weekend, according to Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for Rec and Park.

The incident is the second this month and at least the sixth this year. On Aug. 8, vandals attacked four 8-foot-tall, 15-year-old tree ferns and five trees, as well as a park bench, a rhododendron and a length of fencing, officials said.

A couple of weeks ago, about $25,000 of damage was done to trees, planters and benches. Sarah Ballard San Francisco Recreation and Park's Department says the latest incident occurred Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

"There were branches lopped off, planters smashed, benches smashed, a variety of different acts of vandalism against property and against living plants," she said.

The AIDS Memorial Grove was conceived over 25 years ago at the peak of the epidemic to give people a quiet peaceful place to reflect and remember those who died from AIDS.

It's been anything but peaceful this year with six separate acts of vandalism all of which seem very similar. Rec and Park suspect the same person or group is responsible.

"It's pretty disgusting that anyone would want to vandalize the AIDS Memorial Grove. This is a sacred sight for our community," said Supervisor Scott Wiener who has criticized Rec and Park for a lack of security measures.

There are no surveillance cameras at the AIDS Memorial Grove. Ballard said installing them presents both logistical and policy problems. Wiener said security should be stepped up with more park patrols.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. And its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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