NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was outrage in Brooklyn on Thursday after a George Floyd statue was vandalized during the overnight hours.
It had just been dedicated this past weekend for the Juneteenth holiday.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, the NYPD is calling the incident a hate crime.
Police spent part of the day canvassing the area for surveillance video, and volunteers worked hard to clean the statue up.
The NYPD believes the statue on Flatbush Avenue was vandalized early between 3 a.m. and 7:15 a.m.
Just Wednesday night, families were here admiring the statue, but on Thursday morning they woke up to see black paint across Floyd’s face.
Across the statue’s inscription was the slogan “PATRIOTFRONT.US”
Rozner has learned Patriot Front is a known white supremacist organization that the NYPD recognizes as an organized extremist group.
The incident happened the day before the sentencing of Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April of murdering Floyd.
Floyd’s brother, Terrence, had been at the site on Sunday for the dedication of the statue and played a part in its creation.
Understandably, community members are upset. Rozner also spoke with the NYPD.
“Whoever did it, you should be ashamed of yourself. He already suffered enough,” Flatbush resident Yasmeen Beadle said.
“This is an opportunity for our community to come together and to learn about what being Black in America is about, what being Black excellence is about, and this is definitely an attack on our community,” Brooklyn Councilwoman Farrah Louis said.
“It’s not okay. It’s not okay,” added Courtney Nelson, Terrence Floyd’s publicist. “It hurts more than anything else because we worked tediously with the council member, with Confront Art, with Papoose, and with Terrence Floyd for months on this.”
“These type of cases are going to end up resulting in doing an extended video canvas, so it’s still in the beginning part of the investigation,” NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.
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. pic.twitter.com/mTwzwIyG4z
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 24, 2021
On Thursday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter, calling the vandalism, in part, “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.”
Community organizers said they won’t let the incident deter the statue’s mission and that the structure would be cleaned up by the end of the day.
In a few weeks, the statue moves to Union Square.
FLOYD STATUE IN NEWARK DEFACED
Investigators say graffiti and blackface were discovered on the statue Thursday morning, along with the web address of the same white supremacist group.
The bronze statue honoring Floyd was just unveiled last week on the steps of City Hall.
“The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country,” said Mayor Ras Baraka. “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 so, despite the ignorance that has reared its ugly head.”
Police said it is unclear if the Brooklyn and Newark incidents are related.