TWO SKATEBOARDERS have been charged with causing more than $3,000 in damage to the city's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is at Front and Spruce streets.

Marcus Lee-Calloway, 18, and Kyle Thorpe, 25, were arrested June 21 and charged with institutional vandalism, criminal conspiracy and possession of an instrument of crime. Their preliminary hearing is set for July 17.

A memorial caretaker was attempting to escort the two men out of the area, but they refused to cooperate — one began to walk down Front Street while the other argued with the caretaker, said police Capt. Brian Korn. Officers apprehended both men and confiscated their skateboards.

The memorial's engineering consultant estimated that repairing the damage would cost about $3,260 in materials and labor. The chipped granite panels and metal scrapes will be repaired, and wax removed from the granite surface.

"For those of us connected with the memorial, it is the sacrilege that riles us," said Terry Williamson, president of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. "That people would have such disdain for the 646 Philadelphians who lost their lives in the Vietnam War is unfathomable and a sad testament to how some Americans feel about those who served."

Mayor Nutter has suggested raising the fine for vandalizing public works. City Councilman David Oh has introduced a measure to increase the fines for defacing public artwork and memorials from $300 to $2,000.