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DALLAS - The City Attorney's office acted immediately late Friday afternoon in demanding a website remove an advertisement that offered to pay someone to vandalize Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll.

A Houston-area man alerted News 8 to the posting on uShip.com, a website matching shippers with customers needing items transported.

"This is ridiculous," said Michael Kahlenberg, who discovered the ad. "This is hallowed ground."

The online ad offers to pay someone between $50 and $200 to vandalize the National Historic Landmark by digging up a gallon of dirt from the Grassy Knoll, snap bark off the huge Live Oak tree there, and even take part of the stockade fence.

"I see it more as an opportunity to make a fast buck," said Farris Rookstool, a JFK historian.

The person who posted the ad, known only as "Tim M." said he wants souvenirs for himself, family, and friends. He claimed that he collected similar items himself when he visited once before. No last name, e-mail, or phone number is listed for him, but he did write that he lives in Clarksville, Tenn.

Friday afternoon, someone had offered to steal the items and ship it to him for $230.

Rookstool said he expects anything taken would likely end up for sale again.

"As the 50th anniversary approaches," he explained, "we're going to have more and more people wanting to take opportunities to cash in and try to sell something."

The City of Dallas is spending almost $2 million to restore Dealey Plaza before November.

After News 8 showed the city the ad, it acted within 90 minutes to stop the sale.

"We contacted the City Attorney's office and then contacted the actual website, uShip.com, and asked them - really demanded them - to immediately to withdraw the posting on their website," said Willis Winters, City of Dallas Park and Recreation Dept.

Late Friday, the City of Dallas officially sent a cease-and-desist letter to Matthew Chasen, the CEO of uShip.com.

"The City demands that you immediately remove the advertisement from your website and take no other actions to assist in the commission of criminal mischief in Dallas," wrote Christopher D. Bowers, First Assistant City Attorney. "If a person is found committing criminal mischief at Dealey Plaza, the City will take all necessary steps to ensure that he or she is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Soon after, uShip.com responded and said it deactivated the listing.

"We also took steps to remove the member from our website, as these types of postings are not condoned nor allowed per the uShip user agreement and our policies," said Heather Hoover, Community, Safety & Trust Manager for uShip.com, in an e-mail to the city.

Dallas police said vandalism, which is prosecuted as criminal mischief, is rare at Dealey Plaza, but Sgt. Warren Mitchell said the department is looking into the ad as well.

Fence slats, tree bark, and even dirt sound inconsequential. But they're items the city promises to prosecute over, especially as we approach the 50th anniversary of what happened here.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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