Waluk, meanwhile, says part of the problem in Newport lies with a homeless shelter three blocks south of the Island Cemetery, some of whose clients he says hang around the neighborhood, drinking and causing trouble. Waluk is working with the police chief to step up foot patrols in the area as the weather warms, he said.
The men Newport police have charged with the Island Cemetery desecration, Ramon Fulvi, Andrew Fowler and Richard Mounts, are originally from out of state and gave the shelter as their primary residence.
It's unclear what motived the crime, police Lt. William Fitzgerald said.
Attorneys for the men declined to comment . Fowler, 20, and Mounts, 36, remain in custody, and Fulvi, 23, did not respond to attempts to reach him directly and through acquaintances.
The men had been camping out in the Common Burial Ground, an older cemetery adjacent to Island Cemetery, but didn't vandalize it, said Michael Henlyshyn, president of the board of trustees for Island Cemetery.
"You don't damage your home," Henlyshyn said. "A lot of bums stay there. You find all kinds of refuse and junk."
On Saturday, empty liquor bottles, as well as bedding and pillows hidden under a bush, could be found in the area behind the Oliver Hazard Perry monolith, where Henlyshyn said the men had stayed .
Henlyshyn said he was surprised people in the houses surrounding the cemetery didn't hear anything.
Seventy-five volunteers, including Newport's rugby team and workers from grave-placement companies that donated heavy machinery to the task, arrived Saturday morning to rows and clusters of knocked-down headstones spanning the graveyard, which is about the length of four football fields and contains more than 15,000 graves. They spent four hours raising the majority of them, leaving only those so badly damaged they require expert repairs.
"Stuff like this makes me upset," said Dave Jackson - one of about 15 Newport firefighters helping out Saturday - as he joined four fellow firefighters to raise the Astor headstones. "This is a way to get out your anger."
As for people whose deceased relatives' graves were damaged, "they've all been pretty respectful," Henlyshyn said. "Though one woman started screaming at me, `How could you let this happen?'"