Black woman vandalizes Civil War monument to African-American soldiers

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Authorities report that Rosemine Occean, 38, threw thick, yellow paint on a historic Beacon Hill memorial.  The paint not only hit a nearby family, but it splashed all over Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ monument honoring Robert Gould Shaw and the Union Army’s first all-black regiment in the Civil War.

The 38-year-old vandal has a history of mental illness and is reported to have told police the monument “was an improper depiction of history.”

The historic monument, located in Boston, was completed in 1897 to commemorate the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The monument depicts the regiment’s white officer, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, on a horseback and his men walking alongside. The regiment played a pivotal role in the Battle of Fort Wagner off the coast of South Carolina. The regiment’s 25-year-old leader, Shaw, along with 281 of his men were killed in the battle. Sergeant William H. Carney, one of the black regiment soldiers killed during the battle, was among the first African-Americans to receive the Medal of Honor for his role in the Civil War.

The monument and regiment itself became popular after a poem written by Robert Lowell about the monument, and even more popular after the 1989 film Glory. Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman starred in the Oscar winning film as members of the volunteer regiment.

Occean is being held on $3,000 bail and is due back in court August 21st.  The 54th Regiment monument, still marked with yellow paint, has remained the first stop on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail.

Click here to view a photo of the vandalism.

Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.