Symbols, words of hate spray painted on gravestones at historic migrant cemetery

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Dozens came together for a vigil for a historic cemetery in Avondale that was hit by vandals. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dozens came together for a vigil for a historic cemetery in Avondale that was hit by vandals. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Vigil attendees hope is to turn this dark day into something positive by coming together and showing that hate will not be tolerated. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Vigil attendees hope is to turn this dark day into something positive by coming together and showing that hate will not be tolerated. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A solemn place in Avondale for lost loved ones was ruined by swastikas and racial slurs.

Overnight or early Thursday morning, the suspects spray painted racial slurs directed at Mexican immigrants and hateful symbols on more than a dozen headstones at Goodyear Farms Historic Cemetery.

"This is something that just came to light to us this morning. It's shocking. It's an outrage. This is a national treasure here in the west Valley. We love our cemetery," Pier Simeri with the City of Avondale said. "This is where migrant workers who toiled in the fields for decades. This is their final resting place. It's a place that needs to be respected, honored, treasured. We will not tolerate this."

Crews painted over the graffiti later on Thursday.

The cemetery is nearly 100 years old. The people buried there are migrant workers who worked for the Goodyear Farms, which provided cotton for Goodyear Tire Company.

"We saw the hate signs, the swastikas ya know, wetback being painted on benches and stuff, honestly its really sad right now," Mike Segovia said.

Segovia has several family members buried at Goodyear Farms many of them he said worked the farms but their contribution goes beyond just the West Valley.

"My uncle that's buried just feet away from me, is a world war two veteran and to have graves be desecrated like that and undermined like that is disheartening," he said.

Thursday night a few dozen people gathered at the cemetery for a candlelight vigil, hoping to return some of the peace and honor that was disrespected.

"I think it's a start, I think it's a way of showing that our community doesn't think that this is okay not today, not tomorrow, not ever." said Segovia.

A sentiment echoed throughout the vigil.

Segovia says he has no idea who would do something so awful but he's hoping it was just teens who took a joke too far, and not adults who really have this kind of hate in his heart.

Avondale police said they are investigating and asking for the public's help. Anyone with information is asked to call Avondale police. 

As for those at the vigil Thursday night, their hope is to turn this dark day into something positive by coming together and showing that hate will not be tolerated.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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