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I-35W survivor wall vandalism: City looking for 22 missing letters

Visitors gaze at the now-blank granite wall of the 35W memorial.

Visitors gaze at the now-blank granite wall of the 35W memorial.

Just two days after the 35W Bridge Remembrance Garden was dedicated to the victims of the tragedy, one of its main components has been ruined.

The memorial includes a waterfall with a passage written in stainless steel letters. At some point last night, someone tore off a number of the letters, rendering the passage illegible.

[jump] At the unveiling on Monday evening, a representative for each of the 13 victims read a passage honoring the dead, and the public was welcomed for the first time to enjoy the completed memorial in Gold Medal Park. It includes 13 stainless steel pillars inscribed with the names of victims, and a fountain carved with the names of the 171 survivors.

Above the survivors' names, bathed in a sheet of cascading water, the following passage was written in steel letters:
Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.
Today, someone realized that 22 letters are missing from the passage. Shortly after, a maintenance worker stopped by to remove the rest. Now, all there is to see is a blank granite wall with holes sputtering water.

City officials are calling the incident an act of vandalism and the Minneapolis police are investigating.

Mayor R.T. Rybak was at the memorial a half-hour after he heard what happened, calling it an "act of remarkable ignorance." He says he's already reached out to the Survivor's Network who will get in touch with victim's families.

"I call on those responsible to immediately return the stolen letters," he told reporters. "It's beyond description how wrong this act is."

He went on to add that the architect will be brought in along with other officials to discuss new security measures for the memorial. The new letters are not expected to be ready for another two weeks.

The city is asking anyone with information about the vandalism to call the First Precinct at 612-673-5701.

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