A day after the city of Ferguson planted a tree in memory of slain unarmed teenager Michael Brown, vandals inexplicably chopped down much of the tree—and confiscated a plaque at the base of it.
The Black Caucus of the American Library Association donated the sapling tree in January in Wabash Park. It represented the 18-year-old Brown’s life and how it was taken at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson—and how it sparked what the town outside of St. Louis hopes is dramatic change in how Black people are treated by law enforcement and political leadership.
But the tree—and another tree that was planted by a resident in memory of a dead pet—was chopped in an obvious attempt to damage the spirit of the community.
The city said both trees were chopped off at the trunk and that concrete plaques placed at the bases of both were taken.
Police believe the trees were damaged late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. A police officer patrolling the park noticed the damage Sunday. Police said they have not found witnesses to the vandalism and have no leads in the case.
An investigation is ongoing, the officials said, but local television station News 4 reported that so far, police don’t have any leads on who the suspected vandals may be.
“I can’t understand why someone would want to cut down the tree,” a local man told the television news station. “They want to start something back up again?”
This is not the first time a memorial for Brown has been damaged. Back in December, a makeshift memorial at the site of the shooting was allegedly destroyed intentionally by a motorist.
Local residents were further angered by a police spokesman who referred to that memorial as a “pile of trash” to The Washington Post when contacted about the initial damage to the candles, stuffed animals, flowers and other mementos left at the site.