Vandalism is for cowards. 

Anyone who desecrates a public memorial or sprays vulgar graffiti on sidewalks outside the home of a public official deserves to be caught and jailed for offending public order and decency.

In a democracy, we express opinions in a civil fashion. It is simply not cool or acceptable to sneak around under the cover of darkness to smash or spew vitriol that you do not have the courage to say in public.

Twice in recent days, Charleston found itself the victim of vandalism. Sometime on May 29 or May 30, a coward used a hammer or some other battering object to damage the granite pedestal of a monument to Denmark Vesey in Hampton Park. A scar that now mars the statue of the enslaved man who bought his freedom and was later hanged in 1822 after a foiled plot to free other enslaved people.

Over the same Memorial Day weekend, vandals sprayed profane graffiti and political symbols at three Daniel Island parks and outside the home of U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. The perpetrators: Cowards.

Whether the incidents are related is unclear, but both are unacceptable. We hope the cretins who smashed and sprayed are caught and punished quickly and completely.

“We should think about taking it down a notch,” Mace said in a statement after the incident, although it didn’t help that she incorrectly attributed graffiti of an A inside a circle as “antifa” when it is a well-known symbol for anarchy. She’s right, however, that we need to feel safe in our homes, regardless of political beliefs and that everyone should “take a moment to think about their words and their actions at this time. And, it’s not just social media, but our words impact real people and impact real lives.”

Let’s also amplify the words of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who said the acts of vandalism would not be tolerated.

“Here in Charleston, we don’t deface monuments and we don’t vandalize people’s homes,” he said. “Basic human decency is not a political issue – and people who don’t understand that will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

If you have any information on the vandals or hear anyone bragging about smashing the monument or spray-painting trash at parks or outside Mace’s home, please contact the Charleston Police Department so it can throw them in jail — and maybe throw away the key for a while.