Police Investigate Vandalism Incident at African-American Museum Founded by Baton Rouge Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

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An investigation is underway after reports of vandalism at Baton Rouge’s African-American history museum, according to The Advocate.

Authorities said the wreckage, which included busted windows, overturned benches and other signs of damage, were discovered Monday — exactly one month after museum’s founder, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, was found dead.

Baton Rouge African-American Museum
A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed officers are investigating a possible vandalism at the Odell S. Williams African-American Museum. (WAFB / video screenshot)

Resident Dadruis Lanus posted photos of the damage to Facebook yesterday, saying the scene left him at a loss for words. The museum’s outdoor garden was trashed, while chairs and other furniture were flipped over.

“Someone or some people vandalized Ms. Sadie’s African American Cultural Museum!” Lanus wrote. “If this is true, whoever these people were, they are trying to test the spirit of the good people of Baton Rouge, and we cannot let them! When the area is cleared by law enforcement I will make it a point to help clean up this sacred place back up and help restore it back better than ever!”

Sgt. Don Coppola Jr., a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department, confirmed to Atlanta Black Star that it is investigating property damage at the Odell S. Williams African-American Museum in the city’s downtown.

It’s unclear when the vandalism took place, as the museum has been closed since the founder’s death.

“This investigation remains ongoing,” Coppola said.

Roberts-Joseph, a beloved activist best known for founding the museum and hosting the city’s annual Juneteeth festival, was found suffocated in the trunk of her car on July 12. Authorities later charged her tenant, 38-year-old Ronn Bell, with murder in her death. He reportedly owed Roberts-Joseph nearly $1,200 in back rent.

“This should be a part of all of us, really,” Kevin Hayes, who also snapped  photos of the damage, told WAFB of the historic museum. “I mean, I think we should all stand together no mater what color you are, how old, or young. Something like this … that’s so important. That’s something we should cherish and take care of.”

Baton Rouge Police did not return requests for comment.

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