Theft attempt at Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An act of vandalism at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument at Fresno State has upset many in the community.

The constant stream of water helps visitors reflect at the monument. Friday's discovery of a missing steel panel was disturbing.

Berj Apkarian is the honorary consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno. He didn't think this was an act of a metal thief. Apkarian said, "I see it as a hate crime. I see it as an unacceptable act."

The panel featured the seal of the modern Republic of Armenia -- established in 1991. Apkarian said, "Out of all the panels the panel that reflects the rebirth of the new republic was taken."

The 50-pound steel panel was removed but was left discarded on the site. Barlow Der Mugrdechian heads the Armenian Studies program at Fresno State. He said, "Apparently it was so heavy that the attempted thieves weren't able to take it away with them."

Der Mugrdechian said each pillar and each panel tells the story of Armenian history. "It's like desecrating a flag. It's like desecrating a state building or a federal building because it does represent Armenia."

The memorial was dedicated just three months ago. The Armenian community raised close to $700,000 to build the monument.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro said, "I ask the campus and community to join together in protecting our historic monument."

Apkarian added, "The immediate reaction from me was the souls of our victims have been disturbed with such act."

The steel panel should be reinstalled within a week -- with new security measures.
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