“Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city,” Long Beach Mayor says in statement
The 1960s civil rights activist’s monument was covered in the white supremacist symbols over the holiday weekend in Long Beach, a city near Los Angeles. Police quickly removed the symbols. The local police department told USA Today that they are investigating it as a hate crime, though they do not have any potential suspects yet.
“This is no small issue,” Assistant Police Chief Wally Hebeish told Long Beach News. “We are taking this as serious as it has to be.”
The statue was erected in 1986 in Martin Luther King Jr Park and paid for by local churches and other community organisations.
Local resident Antira Joiner told Fox News 11, “When I saw the symbol, I was taken aback. It was unbelievable to me because it seemed to happen in broad daylight”, describing it as “heartbreaking”, “shocking” and “ very disappointing”.
“I was very hurt by it because it’s like someone walking into your house, breaking in and doing something. You know, it was akin to someone vandalising my house, truth be told,” she said to the news outlet on 6 July.
Robert Garcia, the city’s mayor, condemned the vandalism, saying in a statement, “Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city.”
Long Beach City Council member Al Austin II also expressed his sadness at the vandalism.
“I’m shocked and disheartened by the recent hate graffiti on the statue at MLK Park. It’s troubling that this act happened in a core area of our LB Black community.”
In response to the act of vandalism, local residents turned out to express their opposition to the vandalism. Images of the event were shared on the AOC7 Neighbourhood Action group Facebook page.
The images were posted with the caption, “Thank you for joining us today and standing for peace with us!”
They also included a quote from Dr King himself that read, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This is not the first time that the Martin Luther King Jr statue has been vandalised.
In 2019, a plaque was stolen from underneath the statue, which provided information about those who funded the statue. Local residents reported the theft made them feel personally attacked.
At the time, Water Williams told The Press Telegram: “It stands for a lot of good things for everybody. It just kind of feels like somebody died to me.”
A new plaque was installed in February and cost more than $3,000 to replace.