Iron Hill Museum Faces Ongoing Vandalism, Racism
The Iron Hill Museum, located in Newark, Delaware, has become a recurring target of vandalism and racism. Over the past year, the museum has faced multiple incidents of destruction, with the most recent incident involving racial slurs scribbled across informational signs.
In the beginning of the year, the museum used a $25,000 grant to create a new trail dedicated to the history of the free Black community in the area. However, less than two weeks after its completion, all the informational signs were ripped out of the ground, broken, or destroyed. This was a disheartening blow to the museum staff, who had put in significant effort to create the trail and educate the community about African American history.
As a response to the earlier vandalism, the museum upgraded its security cameras. Unfortunately, the upgraded cameras were unable to capture footage of the person responsible for the most recent act of vandalism. This time, the vandal targeted ten different informational signs, defacing them with racial graffiti slurs. The prevalence of racial slurs, specifically the use of the n-word, highlights the deeply disturbing nature of this incident.
The vandalism occurred on the night of October 4th, when the museum’s director, Deborah Broomall, was meeting with a security installer. Upon seeing the racial slurs, Broomall described the incident as “disgusting” and “taking things to a more disgusting level.” Efforts were made to clean off the signs, which required a volunteer to spend a whole day working on restoring them. This wasted time and energy could have been used for community engagement and programming, reflecting the significance of the museum’s mission.
Iron Hill Museum is actively working with local and state NAACP organizations to address the ongoing vandalism. Monthly meetings are held to discuss ways to protect the museum and its African American history, with the participation of state and local police. In response to the latest incident, one NAACP member expressed a strong desire to develop a “friends of Iron Hill Museum organization” that would involve more community members in protecting the museum.
While it may be easy to label the vandalism as a hate crime, Broomall emphasizes the importance of confirming the motives behind the destruction. She believes that the years of vandalism may stem from a vendetta against the museum rather than racial resentment. However, the repeated targeting of the museum and the use of racial slurs cannot be ignored.
The Iron Hill Museum serves as a vital resource for preserving and educating about African American history in the local community. The ongoing vandalism and racism it faces are not only a blow to the museum but also to the community at large. It is crucial for law enforcement to identify and hold accountable those responsible for these acts, ensuring that the museum can continue its important work in documenting and honoring the history of the free Black community in the area.