Firefighters, volunteers repair damaged gravesites following Trump rally

East Lawn Memorial Gardens
At least a dozen gravestones at East Lawn cemetery in Bloomington were damaged by cars which had been parked for the Donald Trump rally. (Photo courtesy Facebook/Stacy McCollum Beerup)

By Eric Stock

BLOOMINGTON – Local firefighters from Bloomington and Normal teamed with other volunteers to repair gravesites and the grounds at East Lawn Memorial Gardens in Bloomington which were damaged by parked cars that turned the cemetery into a makeshift parking lot for the Donald Trump rally.

President of the Bloomington Firefighters Union IAFF Local 49 and Bloomington firefighter John Meckley said at least a dozen gravestones were damaged.

PODCAST: Listen to WJBC’s interview with Meckley.

“There was trash everywhere, where they had driven over numerous stones,” Meckley said. “Fortunately, not all were damaged, but there were rows and rows and rows of headstones that were driven over.”

After pictures surfaced on social media, volunteers went to work with jacks, shovels, and rakes to re-level headstones and smooth out the grounds which were torn up by the cars and the rain.

“It was a community gathering of…. this is not tolerable, this is not acceptable,” Meckley stressed.

Meckley says he saw a 16-year-old girl who was laying flowers at each of the damaged graves.

“It shows there’s still hope for America,” Meckley said.

He said he’s not sure how people couldn’t have seen they were parking in a cemetery even though the gravestones are all ground level. He estimates at least a dozen of the headstones were damaged.

Parking on Central Illinois Regional Airport property had become full before the rally started. An estimated 2,800 people attended the rally, while about 500 others were turned away once Synergy Flight Center had reached capacity.

Eric Stock can be reached at eric.stock@cumulus.com.

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