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Sandy Ground Playgrounds Vandalized In Hartford, Mystic

The mother of one of the girls killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting says she does not consider the graffiti found on a Sandy Ground playground built in Hartford in March for her daughter to be vandalism.

The message found spray painted May 4 at the Ana Marquez Greene Memorial playground read “Peace to Sandy Hook,” using a peace sign and the numeral 2. The spray-paint message found Sunday and later removed also included a graffiti tag.

Nelba Marquez Greene told WTNH-TV that someone just wanted to send them a message of peace and equated it to the stuffed animals that victims’ families received after the December 2012 shooting.

Ms Marquez Greene says she now plans to raise money to put up a graffiti board at the playground, so that if other kids want to leave condolence messages, there is a place for them.

The Sandy Ground Project has been constructing playgrounds to honor each of the women and children killed on 12/14, and in response to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The playgrounds are being built in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, primarily in communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. The project connects two tragedies that share the name Sandy.

The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play has been coordinated by the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Foundation, Inc. The project’s mission is to create 26 living memorials to all children who have been victims of violence. Each Sandy Ground playground is being built and then dedicated in the name of a victim of 12/14.

Unfortunately, the painting in the Anna Marquez Greene park was not the first time a Sandy Ground Playground has been disturbed. Earlier this week, according to The Day of New London, a 50-pound vinyl peace sign that marked the entrance of the playground in Mystic, build in memory of Grace McDonnell, was stolen. That playground, also a Sandy Ground Project playground, opened on April 27.

William Lavin, whose Where Angels Play Foundation has been building playgrounds to honor all 26 victims, told The Day of New London that Grace McDonnell’s mother found out about the theft when the man who apparently took the sign called her.

Mr Lavin said the thief told Lynn McDonnell he stole the sign because he believes the shooting at the school was a hoax.

Mr Lavin said Mrs McDonnell was upset, and worried about how the theft might affect those who helped build the playground.

The foundation has ordered a replacement sign.

In September, an 8-inch by 8-inch brass bell was stolen from the playground in Island Park, L.I., N.Y., that had been built just days earlier to honor Caroline Previdi.

The next playground, to honor teacher Lauren Rousseau, will have its groundbreaking on Long Beach Island, N.J., May 9. Its ribbon cutting is planned for Sunday, May 11. As of this week, 20 playgrounds have been built. The first one, honoring teacher Anne Marie Murphy, opened in April 2013.

Associated Press content was used in this story.

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