A statue of George Floyd that was installed in Brooklyn less than a week ago has been spray painted and branded with the logo of a white supremacist group in an act of vandalism which police were investigating as a hate crime officials said Thursday.
The degraded statue, which was unveiled on Flatbush Avenue last Saturday to commemorate the June 17 holiday, was discovered by police early Thursday, police said. It was covered in black spray paint and stenciled for Patriot Front, a group of white supremacists with a small but growing presence in New York City.
“This is at the epitome of not only anti-darkness and racism, but it is also about the lack of human decency, even elementary, in the life of George Floyd,” said Imani Henry, lead organizer of ‘Equality for Flatbush, a local community group. which opposes gentrification in the region and fights against police brutality.
“For someone to desecrate the homage of an innocent person is just beyond pale,” Mr. Henry said.
The overnight vandalism came a day before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April of murdering Mr. Floyd, a black man, was convicted.
“I am saddened by this,” said Chris Carnabuci, the artist who created the sculpture as part of a project commemorating the death of Mr. Floyd and the attention it has drawn to the lingering racism in the world. criminal justice system.
“I am not completely shocked,” he added.
Mr Carnabuci said he knew the sculpture would elicit strong feelings, but hadn’t expected it to be disfigured so quickly.
“It was so soon after that it happened,” he said. “Maybe it was a surprise.”
Investigators have identified four suspects who can be seen on surveillance video approach the statue at around 3:30 a.m. Thursday and then leave in a vehicle, according to a law enforcement official who spoke under cover of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing. No arrests had been made Thursday afternoon, police said.
Patriot Front has its roots in a national neo-Nazi organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremism in the United States, designated it as a hate group.
The Patriot Front’s presence in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast is reflected primarily in its stencils, which members and supporters often spray paint on telephone poles and other public property. Many of the group’s tags have been seen in South Brooklyn in recent years.
At least twice, the law enforcement official said, those with ties to the Patriot Front have reportedly displayed large banners bearing the group’s slogans and other information on major New York avenues.
Earlier this month, a mural of Mr. Floyd in Philadelphia was similarly disfigured, and labeled with the Patriot Front logo.
In New York, the group has come under scrutiny by the Police Department’s Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism Unit, a special task force that tracks the presence of hate groups in the city, said. the law enforcement official.
Mr Carnabuci said Thursday there were people working to remove the spray paint and repair any other damage to the statue, which is due to stay in Brooklyn for several weeks before a planned move to Union Square in Manhattan.
“It shows that the division exists,” he said. “The polarization exists.