The two-year old Ashland Peace Fence by the railroad tracks was found destroyed Friday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Ashland's Peace Fence ruined by vandalism

ASHLAND — Creators of the two-year-old Peace Fence by the railroad tracks found it destroyed Friday, with all 120 panels ripped out and tossed on the ground.

The fence was mounted on Mother's Day 2006 as a general statement of peace, not aimed at the Iraq War, creators said. After two winters, the Peace Fence was recreated this spring by local artists and schoolchildren.

As they gathered up the tattered woven and painted panels, five supporters of the Peace Fence decried the act as one that was premeditated, took more than one person and wasn't the typical teen vandalism.

"It was really an act of anger," said Nancy Parker. "They brought tools to do this. They tore the corners and grommets and yanked them out."

"The artists and students put hours and hours of work into this fence. I cried," said J. Ellen Austin, owner of Jega Gallery, which overlooks the fence. "My eyes are still puffy. I can't believe the anger (of the vandals). It's so senseless."

The Peace Fence, mounted on a chain link fence in the Railroad District, was also torn down last New Year's Eve.

"In the process of making the fence, we've had to think about peace a lot and this act brings out the non-peaceful side," said Kay Cutter.

"We have no reason to be punitive with them. We want to know what their issue is. We want to hear them in a constructive way where healing is possible," she added.

All panels had been photographed and many preserved on, including the 12-foot-long "Peace Train," made and donated by 10 veterans from Oakland, Calif.

"It's known all over the U.S. and many people had visited it in preparation for doing their own," said Austin.

Jean Bakewell, who came up with the Peace Fence idea in spring 2006, said the police would be contacted. None of the panels was missing, she added, but all were tossed inside the fence.

Supporters erected only one flag in place of the display, a Tibetan prayer flag.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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