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Vandalism at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

Two saplings planted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground were recently severed at ground level by a vandal with a saw. The intentional destruction of the irreparably-damaged oak and elm occurred in separate incidents over a two-week period, the last one likely carried out between Wednesday, July 10 and Friday, July 12 when severe nighttime thunderstorms and showers blanketed the Boston area. The Freedom Trail site at Copp’s Hill, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, is the city’s second oldest cemetery founded in 1659.

Since 1995, the burying ground has been targeted by repeated waves of vandalism, specifically the gouging and toppling of 10 trees within the perimeter wall and additional ones felled at the Copp’s Hill Terrace below. The cost of planting the oak and elm saplings, including the drilling and excavation of  old stumps, and installation of new tree pits by a private landscape company amounted to $8,000 allocated from the limited budget of the park department’s Burial Ground Initiative according to Tom Schiavoni, chairperson of the Friends of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground who volunteer as park partners.

City officials are requesting that archival videotape footage, still preserved and stored on building security devices from the week of July 8 to July 12, be reviewed by property owners and managers for signs of vandalism activity in the vicinity of lower Charter and Snow Hill Streets adjacent to the back gate of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

A history of vandalism incidents dating back to 1995 can be found at this link to a memorandum from the files of the Friends of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

Information relevant to the investigation underway can be directed to Kelly Thomas, Historic Burying Grounds Initiative, Boston Parks and Recreation Department, 1010 Massachusetts Ave., Third Floor Boston, MA 02118, 617-961-3034.

12 Replies to “Vandalism at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

  1. People will just continue to do these HORRENDOUS acts because they have nothing of value within their own lives!!! Karma will pay them a visit I am sure….Video’s or these people will not help and even if they did and were arrested they certainly aren’t going to be put in jail…..Remember murderer’s are walking the streets today……

  2. > because they have nothing of value within their own lives!
    They have plenty of value… mostly in the form of property and sight lines. Tom Schiavoni dismisses this as a motivation, but I disagree. A relatively small tree that doesn’t _yet_ block a view is _much_ easier to destroy than a mature tree that _does_. And it raises less suspicion.

    He definitely get’s one thing correct though: “this destruction was not perpetrated by random acts of youthful vandalism.”

  3. Has happened before. Motivation appears to be to prevent obstruction of view. All whose views would be obstructed are prime suspects.

    1. The burial ground has trees galore. I wonder, does someone worry about a tree blocking the view, seeing that the burial ground has been dotted with wonderful trees. I would think it’s vandalism , for the sake of it.

  4. I live right across the street and my window is direct sight line of this. I actually don’t understand why someone would cut this down, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE another giant oak tree out my window like the one that turns bright gold each fall. This actually makes no sense to me. If the police would like to put a camera on my fire escape please reach out! I would love to help.

    1. How would you feel about a sniper with a telescopic scope rifle ? 🤔These senseless acts infuriate me.

  5. Maybe the fireworks from the procession damaged them. That seem to be the crime of the week in the yuppies North End.

    1. It is a shame that the northenders are no longer considered ‘owners’ of the North End. According to Michael, the yuppies are, or generation Z / X as they are now known. Fireworks do not reach the burial ground, and none were set off there. We would have heard them. Let’s see, who can we blame? In any case, it is an intentional act of violence since one would need to be carrying a saw around to level these precious saplings.

  6. At more expense, but possibly a wrought iron fence to surround the small trees might stop this. If it works, then the NPS will get their trees and won’t have to go through the repeated efforts to replant them. The reasoning surrounding blocking views eludes me. In the northern climates trees take a longer time to mature. Who worries about their view 30 years from now? Looks like idiots at work.

  7. Forget about spending more money (our tax dollars). I would like to see their faces. I would like them to pay $8,000 to replace. I would like their loved ones, families, neighbors, and employers to know who these culprits are., Maybe they can talk sense to them so that it does not happen again.

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