A statue of George Floyd
, unveiled just five days ago in Brooklyn
, New York, to commemorate Juneteenth
, was vandalized early Thursday morning, according to police and the creators of the statue.
The bust of Floyd, which had been placed in Flatbush Junction near Brooklyn College
, was sprayed with black
paint, and white stenciled graffiti spelling out the URL of a fascist group's website was spray-painted on the base of the statue commemorating the 46-year-old Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis
on May 25, 2020.
Officers discovered the vandalism
early Thursday, according to a New York Police Department
spokesperson. “There have been no arrests, and the investigation
is ongoing,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The incident is being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes
Task Force, according to a tweet.
Lindsay Eshelman, co-founder of ConfrontART, which collaborated with the We Are Floyd Foundation, founded by Floyd's brother, Terence Floyd, to erect the statue, said police told her the vandalism happened between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday, a two-hour window when officers were not stationed near the statue.
Eshelman, who spoke with Stardia by phone Thursday while assisting with the repainting of the statue, said she was "devastated" to learn of the vandalism.
She did, however, send a defiant message to the vandals: "You're cowards. You did this at night when no one could see you. I'm restoring it in the day when everyone can see your hatred."
Terence Floyd, who attended the statue's unveiling, learned of the vandalism as his plane touched down in Minneapolis on Thursday morning. On Friday, he will sit in a courtroom to watch
as the police officer who murdered his brother is sentenced, potentially to decades in prison
Floyd said in a statement that the vandalism "is a perfect example of why we are so diligent in promoting change; as a community, we should stand together in peace and in turmoil."
Farah Louis, the New York City
councilwoman who represents the area where the statue is located, tweeted that the vandalism was a "hate crime and totally unacceptable to Mr. Floyd's memory and to the Black community."
“Last night, a far-right extremist group vandalized a statue of George Floyd in Brooklyn. A racist
, loathsome, despicable act of hate. The City Cleanup Corps is repairing the statue right now, and a hate crime investigation is underway. We will bring these cowards to justice,” tweeted Mayor
Bill de Blasio.
A far-right extremist group vandalized a statue of George Floyd in Brooklyn last night. It was a racist, loathsome, and despicable act of hate. The City Cleanup Corps is currently repairing the statue, and a hate crime investigation is underway. We will bring these cowards to justice. pic.twitter.com/mTwzwIyG4z — Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 24, 2021
The white supremacist group Patriot Front
, whose website was spray-painted on the base, claimed responsibility for vandalizing a George Floyd mural in Philadelphia
earlier this month.
On June 12, a video posted to the group's Telegram channel shows three masked men painting over the Philadelphia mural on the night of June 3, then spray-painting Patriot Front logos on it.
Patriot Front, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center
, evolved from Vanguard America
, a white supremacist organization that disbanded not long after one of its members drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville
, in 2017, killing one and injuring 19 others.
Members of the group are afraid of being identified, so they mostly operate at night in masks
, filming themselves placing Patriot Front stickers or flyers on lampposts and other public and private property.
The group has also staged flash mob marches in Washington
, and other cities, where they appeared in masks and filmed themselves chanting for a few minutes before rushing off to their cars and driving
away before being confronted.
“Patriot Front is explicit in its exclusion of people
of color from its conception of pan-European identity as the authentic America,” Susan Corke, the head of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said in a statement to Stardia. “And their method of operation is to stage offensive racist propaganda stunts, so this abhorrent, hateful defacement of the George Floyd statue is more of the same garbage.”
Patriot Front, which did not respond to a request for comment from Stardia, has not claimed responsibility for the Brooklyn vandalism.
Floyd's 6-foot sculpture, which was unveiled on Juneteenth, a newly recognized federal holiday
commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States
, sparked a wave of anti-racist uprisings across America last year.
“It’s a big statement for a big person,” Terence Floyd told NBC
at the unveiling of artist Chris Carnabuci’s sculpture, “and to see Brooklyn represent him and honor him on a national holiday, it’s all love.”