News / USA

Chinese Woman Suspected of Vandalism in Washington

A U.S. Park Police officer stands guard next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the memorial in Washington, July 26, 2013
A U.S. Park Police officer stands guard next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the memorial in Washington, July 26, 2013
U.S. authorities are investigating whether a Chinese-born woman is responsible for the worst series of vandalism of historic sites in Washington in recent years.
 
Fifty-eight-year-old Jiamei Tian is awaiting a second court hearing in the U.S. capital Friday, in connection with the splashing of green paint at the Washington National Cathedral, where she was arrested Monday.
 
Timeline of Vandalism of Washington Historic Sites with Paint

Thursday, July 25
  • Green paint discovered on the Statue of Martin Luther, Luther Place Memorial Church
Friday, July 26
  • Green paint found on the Lincoln Memorial
  • Green symbols discovered on Statue of Joseph Henry, Smithsonian Castle
Sunday, July 28
  • Jiamei Tian attends morning services at Luther Place Memorial Church. A mixture of paint, urine & feces found later inside church sanctuary
Monday, July 29
  • Green paint discovered in the Children’s Chapel and Bethlehem Chapel of Washington National Cathedral
  • Jiamei Tian arrested in bathroom next to Bethlehem Chapel
Tuesday, July 30
  • Jiamei Tian appears in DC Superior Court, charged with felony destruction of property
A police officer found Tian with several paint cans inside the cathedral soon after green paint was thrown onto decorative objects in two chapels. She also had green paint on her shoes.
 
The woman's detention followed the discovery of several other cases of vandalism involving paint at Washington historic sites on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Police believe the incidents are connected.
 
Tian made her first court appearance on Tuesday to face a charge of felony destruction of property for allegedly causing the damage at the cathedral. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The court ordered her to remain in custody because of concerns that she might flee if granted bail.
 
Officials involved in the hearing said Tian's English is weak. They also said she has revealed little about her herself to police, besides claiming that she lives in Los Angeles.
 
DC police chief Cathy Lanier told a local television station the woman may have mental issues.
 
Prior to her arrest, Tian attended a Sunday morning service at Washington's Luther Place Memorial Church.
 
Its administrator, Jack Reiffer, told VOA that several congregants shook her hand in a traditional Christian greeting, but noticed that she did not engage in conversation.
 
"Most people took her to be a homeless person who was sitting in on the service," Reiffer said. "That would have been fairly common here. We frequently have folks that we have not met before who come off the street and sit in the sanctuary."
 
He said several congregants returned to the sanctuary after the service and discovered that a mixture of paint, urine and feces had been splattered onto an organ and chairs around the pulpit, prompting them to call police.
 
  • National Park Service employees clean green paint from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, July 26, 2013.
  • Green paint is splattered on the base of the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, July 26, 2013.
  • A close up shows markings in green paint on the base of a statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, outside the institution's Washington headquarters, July 29, 2013.
  • Live news television vans are parked alongside a statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, after it was vandalized with green paint, outside the institution's Washington headquarters, July 29, 2013.
  • William Adair of Gold Leaf Studios removes green paint from the organ in the Washington National Cathedral's historic Bethlehem Chapel, July 30, 2013.
  • William Adair of Gold Leaf Studios and his staff work to remove green paint from the organ in the Washington National Cathedral's historic Bethlehem Chapel, July 30, 2013.

The church already had informed police about a previous case of vandalism on Thursday, when green paint was found on its statue of Martin Luther outside the sanctuary. It was the earliest of the reported incidents.
 
Similar vandalism with green paint was discovered the next day at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial and the statue of John Henry outside the Smithsonian Castle.
 
Damage estimates for the church, cathedral and Lincoln Memorial each run into thousands of dollars.
 
National Mall and Memorial Parks spokeswoman Carol Johnson told VOA the last major vandalism of a National Park monument in Washington was in 1962.
 
“On the 100th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation, the backside of the Lincoln statue was vandalized and there was a racial epithet written in large pink letters,” Johnson said.
 
“During the protests of the 1960s and 70s, apparently there were smaller amounts of vandalism with people spray painting, but nothing of the magnitude of the latest incident.”
 
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, Bill Miller, said there have been no recent vandalism cases in the city like those of the past week.
 
Court documents showed Tian had a U.S. visa that expired on Saturday. It is not clear how her immigration status will affect the court proceedings against her.
 
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a question from VOA about whether it has provided any assistance to the Chinese citizen.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Announce Breakthrough on Nuclear Deal

update Deal resolves differences over liability of suppliers to India in event of a nuclear accident, U.S. demands on tracking whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid