The 700-pound George Floyd statue erected at City Hall was defaced overnight, authorities said Thursday.
A Newark police sergeant traveling in the area of City Hall just before 6 a.m., noticed the bronze statue was defaced with graffiti, according to Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara.
The face of the statue was also painted black, and in white paint on the torso of the statue were the words -- “LIFE…LIBERTY VICTORY PATRIOTFRONT.US”.
The Newark Police Division immediately began an investigation, which remains ongoing, and the City's Public Works Department arrived on the scene to remove the paint, authorities said.
“The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country," Mayor Baraka said.
“This horrible act is the very reason that this statue needs to remain and be upheld. As this is not just about George Floyd, it's a deliberate effort to push back against and ultimately dismantle systems of hatred, racism, and white supremacy. We celebrate those efforts in Newark, and will continue to do so, despite the ignorance that has reared its ugly head.”
“The Newark Police Division will not tolerate any bias or hate crime, let alone one perpetrated by a white nationalist group that espouses the overthrow of the constitution and government of the United States,” Director O’Hara said.
“The Newark Police Division is vigorously investigating this incident to identify those responsible for this despicable act.”
While Newark police are actively searching for the suspects in the incident, they are seeking the public’s help in quickly identifying them as part of the investigation.
“We are aware of a similar incident in Brooklyn, and are in communication with our federal, state, and county law enforcement partners, as well as the New York City police. It’s disgusting that what was meant to be a symbol of the dignity of all human life would be disfigured by those who espouse hate,” Director O’Hara added.
“I stand in solidarity with Mayor Baraka as we pledge to ensure that the criminals who committed this crime are brought to justice. Hate has no place in our community.”
The bronze statue was unveiled in front of Newark City Hall on June 16, and commissioned by actor, director, and filmmaker Leon Pickney.
The statue was sculpted by artist Stanley Watts and donated to the City of Newark with a plan to stand in front of City Hall for at least one year in collaboration with the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
The artwork honors the life of George Floyd, a Black man who was brutally murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Director O’Hara urges anyone with information about the incident to call the Department's 24-hour Crime Stopper tip line at 1-877-NWK-TIPS (1-877-695-8477). All anonymous Crime Stopper tips are kept confidential and could result in a reward.
Anonymous tips may also be made using the Police Division’s website at: www.newarkpd.org or through their smartphone app available on iTunes or on Google Play.
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