(CN) – A 21-year-old has been charged with defacing a brick wall at the Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina.
According to prosecutors, Noah Sigalas’ action at the fort, the target of the first shots of the Civil War, effectively erased a piece of history.
Sigales, who lives in nearby Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, is accused of wrenching down a support wall on the north wall, causing $1,000 in damages and the loss of handmade bricks from the mid-1800s that cannot be replaced.
“One of our main purposes of the Archeological Resources Protection Act was to provide for the enforcement of penalties against those who loot or vandalize valuable archeological resources,” said US Attorney Beth Drake on Thursday. “Prosecuting cases under the Act helps send the message to those who visit our national parks that these historical locations should be preserved rather than vandalized.”
Ben Byrnes, Chief Ranger of Visitor and Resource Protection for Fort Sumter National Monument said violations are intensely investigated.
He said the monument is a valuable historically, cultural and educational resource.
“The personal significance of Fort Sumter may be different for many people – but it is one of this country’s most recognized National Monuments. Fort Sumter’s construction began in 1829,” Byrnes said. “The brick Fort was unfinished when it was fired upon on April 12, 1861 – starting the American Civil War. The Fort, reduced in size after years of war, retains many of its original bricks…Destroying any part of Fort Sumter brick is like literally erasing a page from the history of the United States.”
If convicted Sigalas faces a possible 13 years in prison and up to $270,000 in fines.
Neither he or his attorney could be reached for comment.