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Man vandalizes Lincoln Memorial by engraving letters into column with a penny

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Park Police say they arrested a man for engraving letters into a Lincoln Memorial column.

Police say they saw a man engraving the letters "HYPT MAEK" into the fifth pillar on the north side of the Lincoln Memorial, with a penny, shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday.

The man, identified as Nurtilek Bakirov, 21, of the Kyrgyz Republic, was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property.

"This does represent permanent damage to the historic fabric of the memorial, so that is troubling," says Justine Bello, Architectural Conservator for National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Police say Bakirov was in Washington D.C. to go to school.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the maximum fine for this charge could be up 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

National Park Service says their conservation team is in the process of determining the best way to address the damage to the nearly 100 year old structure.

"We are still evaluating possible options, this type of damage is in some ways more difficult to address than something on the surface like a paint," says Bello.

This is the third time the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized in 2017.