PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A retired Portland fireman said the David Campbell Memorial, a memorial dedicated to the city’s fallen firefighters, was the recent target of a ‘truly egregious crime.’

David Campbell Memorial Association President Don Porth noticed Thursday the monument had been vandalized.

In a newsletter, Porth wrote the vandal stole 6 brass pieces from the memorial and destroyed another in an attempt to steal it. He also said the 95-year-old limestone floor was ‘significantly damaged’ and the vandals had removed its commemorative name plates.

“Each one of these [nameplates honors someone who] lost their lives in service to the citizens of Portland, and it’s been desecrated,” Porth told KOIN 6 News. “We were doing some assessment of the stonework here for our future renovation project and discovered that the metal nameplates representing the firefighters who died in service to the citizens of Portland had been not only damaged but forcibly removed and stolen.”

Porth additionally reported that the memorial walls were covered in graffiti.

The retired Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter said he isn’t sure when the vandalism occurred, or if the same suspect — or suspects — are responsible for both the stolen property and the graffiti.

“It’s just indescribable how hurtful this is to myself as a Portland firefighter, and it’s really an affront against all firefighters past, present, and into the future,” he said.

In a newsletter, he said this vandalism is the “most severe” damage done to the memorial in his memory. He also said he believes whoever did this “is likely this same person has imposed damage in other parts of the community.”

David Campbell Memorial Association President Don Porth, who is also a retired Portland firefighter, September 9, 2023 (KOIN)
David Campbell Memorial Association President Don Porth, who is also a retired Portland firefighter, September 9, 2023 (KOIN)

“Hopefully this person will be held accountable,” Porth said. “There are actually more severe criminal penalties for something like this because there’s an Oregon revised statute that addresses abuse of a memorial to the dead.”

That statute, 166.076, rules crimes against structures that commemorate the dead as a Class-A misdemeanor. Anyone who violates the statute faces a maximum fine of $50,000.

DCMA has already started talks on developing “Portland Firefighter Memorial Plaza,” a new and improved version of the pre-existing tribute to fallen firefighters.

The damage to the memorial is hurtful to the citizenry but it’s also personal to Porth.

“Every one of these people was responding to a call for assistance from a Portland citizen when their life was either taken or endangered to the point where they eventually died. And that’s an important message to the citizens. They’re a part of this, not in a bad way but actually in a good way. It connects us all together.”