National monument defaced, Twin Cities couple could be responsible

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A pair of young Twin Cities musicians may face felony charges for inscribing their signature on a federal monument. According to the Pioneer Press, the inscription reads "Cole + Shpresa 10/10/2013" and includes a heart. The new marking on Pompeys Pillar National Monument is about 3 feet from the signature of William Clark, a member of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition that opened a land route to the West. Clark signed the rock July 25, 1806, after splitting off from Meriwether Lewis. Clark named the sandstone formation after the infant son of Sacagawea, their interpreter and guide.

The StarTribune said Clark's signature is the last remaining physical evidence of the journey, which began in 1803. It said local residents are incensed.

“A lot of people are heartbroken about the vandalism because of the historical value and the meaning of Pompeys Pillar,” said Jonathan Peart, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Pompeys Pillar.

The pair deserve more “than just a slap on the hand,” said Gina Loose, a 51-year-old construction company manager from Huntley, Mont. “They can come do the cleaning. They can come do the restoration. They can do it during the middle of summer when the rattlesnakes are out. See how they like it.”

“This is what’s wrong with our country today, is these kids don’t know a damn thing about what made our country great,’’ said Scott Engenberger, 46, also of Huntley.

KTVQ in Billings reports a Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputy warned the couple they were trespassing when they entered the park Oct. 10, during the government shutdown. Surveillance video reviewed later showed them jumping the fence and carving their names in the sandstone.

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