Vandals desecrate headstones
CHURCH and community leaders have condemned the desecration of gravesites at the Maclean Cemetery.
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson was at a loss to describe the mentality of people who would get any enjoyment from damaging gravesites.
“The community does not accept this as normal behaviour,” he said.
“It shows total disrespect for the people whose graves they have vandalised.
“It shows total disrespect for the families of the people in the cemeteries and it shows total disrespect for the community as a whole.”
Cr Williamson said he would like nothing more than to see those responsible for the vandalism brought to justice.
“If anyone out there has seen anything, they should contact local police or Crimestoppers,” he said.
“People should report this kind of senseless destruction.”
For the minister of the Lower Clarence Presbyterian Church, Brett Graham, the significance was more the hurt the crime inflicted on people than any sacrilege.
“We don’t hold the gravesites themselves as sacred,” Rev Graham said.
“But it’s very hurtful and disrespectful to the families involved.
“When people attack a piece of property they often don’t realise how much it hurts and offends people.”
Lower Clarence Funerals owner Bill Wright was more direct in his criticism of this type of behaviour.
“These people need to realise that one day they will be in the same position as the people they have offended,” he said.
“It’s something they need to have a good think about.
“It’s disgusting behaviour and just mindless stupidity.”
Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said council became aware of the damage last week and had been contacting families of people whose graves had been attacked.
“About 20 headstones have been damaged,” he said.
“Most of them are fairly historical – I think there’s only one in recent times that has been affected.
“We contacted as many families as we can, but if relatives have any worries they should let us know and tell us what they want to do about it.”
Mr Schroder said council staff had been repairing the damage as best they could.
“It seems that a lot of the damage has been from people either kicking or pushing over headstones and the like,” he said.
“Where possible staff have been re-standing anything that’s just been pushed over. But where there is broken masonry that’s something the families will have to think about.
“My advice to anyone who is not sure is to get down to the cemetery and have a look.
“For people out of the area we have fairly accurate maps of all the gravesites in the Clarence Valley.
“We should be able to tell people from out of the area if any of the damaged graves concern them.”