Over the long Independence Day holiday weekend, a memorial statue of MLK in Long Beach, California’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park was vandalized with spray paint, swastikas and other Nazi-related symbols. Local authorities are now investigating the incident as a hate crime.
NPR’s Sharon Pruitt-Young reported that “the Long Beach Police Department rushed to Martin Luther King Jr. Park at around 3 p.m. [on Friday, July 2] after receiving reports of ‘hate/bias-motivated vandalism.’”
In an interview with NPR, police spokesperson Brandon Fahey confirmed that the front of the statue had been covered with spray paint but added that workers from the parks and recreation department had since been able to scrub it clean.
Still, the matter has led to the hate crime investigation, although no suspects have been identified yet.
“Police would not confirm the nature of the graffiti, citing an ongoing investigation, but photos on social media show a black swastika spray-painted on the statue’s center. Other Nazi-related symbols were painted on the statue’s legs,” Pruitt-Young reported.
The Long Beach Police Department said in a statement that it “takes all reports of hate or bias-motivated incidents seriously, and we value the diversity of our Long Beach community and are actively investigating this incident to hold the individual responsible and accountable for their actions.”
In a social media post, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also called the incident a terrible stain on the city, saying, “over the holiday weekend our MLK statue at King Park was vandalized with horrific graffiti. … Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city.”
Over the holiday weekend our MLK statue at King Park was vandalized with horrific graffiti. The LBPD are investigating this as a hate crime and we are working to catch whoever committed this awful act.
— Office of Mayor Rex Richardson (@LongBeachMayor) July 5, 2021
According to Pruitt-Young, the park was named in honor of King following his assassination in 1968. After discovering the graffiti on Saturday, Pruitt-Young reported that community members met at the park to hold a rally promoting peace.