Eureka Springs police arrest Springdale man for vandalizing veterans memorial
A Springdale man was arrested Friday after reportedly confessing to vandalizing the World War veterans memorial statue in Eureka Springs’ Basin Spring Park.
Eureka Springs police chief Brian Young reported that Dustin Doke was arrested Sept. 24 after video surveillance footage proved he hit the face of the statue, resulting in damage to the nose, forehead and top part of the hat. Young said Doke admitted to the vandalism after he was brought in for questioning. The vandalism occurred around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, Young said.
Interim parks director Scott Miskiel said he met the police in the park on Thursday, discovering the vandalism at 10 a.m. that morning. Miskiel said he was disturbed that someone would damage a statue dedicated to veterans.
“I’m a veteran. My daughter’s in the Army,” Miskiel said. “These people … even if they don’t agree with what our governments do, they shouldn’t be desecrating what’s there to honor citizens that gave their lives.”
Citizen Laci Moffitt, one of the first people to notice the damage, said she couldn’t believe someone would vandalize the statue.
“I am really upset about this,” Moffitt said. “It’s a memorial to veterans, and the face and the hat have been knocked off.”
The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission and the Eureka Springs Preservation Society spent at least $10,000 to restore the statue in 2017.
Preservation society member Dee Bright said the person who oversaw the restoration has since died, and the marble needed to repair the statue is even more rare today than it was four years ago.
“It’s just heartbreaking … all that money and all that time and all that effort,” Bright said. “I just can’t believe it. We had to wait so long to make the restoration happen.”
Bright said it takes a long time to raise thousands of dollars in a small town — the preservation society matched a $5,000 grant for the initial restoration, which was split into smaller projects. The parks commission helped fund parts of the restoration, Bright said, making it a true team effort.
“There’s a lot of money put in there,” Bright said.
Young thanked Assistant Chief Brian Jones and Officer Michael Boseman for working so quickly to bring Doke into custody. Mayor Butch Berry agreed, saying the officers “did a good job getting the person” who vandalized the statue. Doke was booked on defacing objects of public respect, Young said, a Class C felony charge.
“The officers worked together so amazingly and got it taken care of,” Young said. “[Boseman] took the initial report. He was running down there checking on cameras, and [Jones] got the video working up here. It had recorded everything. [Jones] reviewed it and got it together.”
Miskiel said a local business offered a $1,000 reward on Sept. 23 for information leading to the arrest of the individual who vandalized the statue. The reward ended up being unnecessary, Miskiel said, but it’s a great indication of community spirit. As for the Doughboy statue, Miskiel said, the future is uncertain.
“I got the pieces in my office,” Miskiel said. “We’re hoping we will be able to repair but we just don’t know at this point.”