Lincoln Memorial vandalized with green paint

Workers clean the Lincoln Memorial Friday. (Photo: Whitney Wild)

WASHINGTON (WJLA/AP) - Right after the Lincoln Memorial reopened on Friday evening, the crowds were back – though some did worry about how it would look.

The Lincoln Memorial was temporarily closed after someone splattered a splash of green paint on the statue -- a first for the 91-year-old memorial.

The apparent vandalism was discovered around 1:30 a.m. Friday on the statue, the pedestal and the floor, U.S. Park Police said. No words, letters or symbols were visible in the paint.

Capt. Steven Booker said the paint spill "appears intentional based off of the splatter." Police are reviewing security camera footage to try to identify possible suspects, he said.

National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the memorial will be returned to the condition it was in before the vandalism.

"It is not permanent damage," she said. "Our historic preservation crew knows exactly what they need to do."

On Friday evening, the Park Service said that fortunately there is no permanent damage, and though restoration crews have been working throughout the day carefully removing the paint, they aren’t finished yet.

But some visitors are skeptical.

"Solid construction, but probably pretty porous," says Mark Weeks. "I hope it does come off."

"It doesn't look like it's going to come off unless they do some more stuff," says another visitor.

Meanwhile, U.S. Park Police are reviewing surveillance footage in order to try and identify a suspect. A rep tells ABC7 that they do not have a person of interest just yet, and that their criminal branch is still conducting their investigation.

Tourists say they like the round-the-clock access to the memorial, and hope that the option won’t be eliminated due to late-night vandalism.

"We feel confident that the act of one person or one group should not take away the freedom for all of us,” said one visitor.

The memorial, one of the most popular sites on the National Mall, was dedicated in 1922 to the nation's 16th president. The building was designed by Henry Bacon, and Daniel French sculpted the statue of Lincoln. It sits at the opposite end of the National Mall from the Capitol, facing the monument to George Washington.

The memorial has served as a symbol of equality and reunification after the Civil War. It was the site of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington, along with other historic moments.

The Lincoln Memorial is generally open around the clock to visitors. Park Rangers, however, leave their posts about 10 p.m. and return about 9 a.m. daily.

"It's a real shame," says tourist Desma Barker.

ABC7's Ashley Coleman contributed to this report.