Racist graffiti painted on trees at Easthampton conservation area

  • The Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area in Easthampton, which is maintained by the Pascommuck Conservation Trust. —MARTY KLEIN

  • The Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area in Easthampton, which is maintained by the Pascommuck Conservation Trust. MARTY KLEIN

Staff Writer
Published: 1/2/2019 12:17:32 AM

EASTHAMPTON — A conservation area was recently the site of racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic slurs spray-painted on trees and a sign.

Police discovered the graffiti at the Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area and alerted members of the Pascommuck Conservation Trust, the all-volunteer group that manages the site. The vandalism drew wider attention after Marty Klein, a longtime Pascommuck board member, posted photos and a message on Facebook.

“I’ve partially obscured them and was reluctant to post but decided the community needs to be aware that hate lives among us,” Klein wrote on a popular city Facebook page.

In an interview over the phone on Tuesday, Klein said Pascommuck is getting the sign repainted. As for the trees, they’re looking into options for cleaning them.

“It’s a little challenging,” he said of removing the slurs painted on the trees. “It’s not like graffiti on a building.”

The group has had problems at the site before. The area often draws partiers and their litter, and Klein said Pascommuck installed a security camera up in a tree several years ago after people started having paintball-gun fights there.

“I came back a month later, the box was smashed, the lock had been broken, the camera was gone,” Klein said.

Initially, Klein said he was hesitant to post the bigoted graffitti online, giving the vandals a bigger platform. But he said that hate needs to be exposed to the community, referencing when racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered on Mount Tom in 2016.

“They’re homegrown idiots,” Klein said of the most recent vandals, adding that out-of-towners wouldn’t be as likely to know about the conservation area.

The Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area spans 35 acres — Pascommuck’s largest piece of land — and it features well-maintained trails along the Manhan River.

The Pascommuck Conservation Trust is a non-profit land trust. The all-volunteer organization controls 16 properties in Easthampton, totaling around 190 acres of land.

In his Facebook post, Klein said the conservation trust’s mission “is to protect important open space and farmland for the benefit of the people of Easthampton.”

“If only we didn’t have to deal with this kind of distraction,” Klein wrote. “Ugh.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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