Last week two statues unveiled to honor George Floyd were vandalized in Brooklyn, New York, and Newark, New Jersey. The defacement of the statues came as the nation awaited former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin’s sentencing for killing Floyd in May of 2020 after kneeling on his neck for nearly 10 minutes.
The George Floyd statue that was unveiled on Juneteenth at 1545 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was discovered to be vandalized Thursday morning. The statue was spray-painted black and the white supremacist group name “Patriot Front” was stenciled on the base on the bust.
The New York Police Department released surveillance footage of four suspects believed to have committed the vandalism, ABC7 reported. The footage shows the men coming and going from the site of the statue at about 4 a.m. Thursday.
The incident is being investigated the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.
Police spent Thursday canvassing the area for surveillance footage and members of the community worked to clean up the statue.
Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to condemn the vandalism, calling it “a racist, loathsome, despicable act of hate,” he added. “The City Cleanup Corps is repairing the statue right now and a hate crime investigation is underway. We will bring these cowards to justice.”
The statue will be moved to Union Square in the coming weeks.
The 700-pound George Floyd statue in Newark was vandalized in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday, officials in Newark announced. That statue of Floyd was unveiled on June 16 at Newark City Hall.
“George Floyd represents a lot more than himself at this juncture in history,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said during the ceremony when the statue was unveiled to the public. “Hopefully when people walk by it and they see it…hopefully it inspires them to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”
But just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, a sergeant noticed the statue had been defaced with graffiti. Like the Brooklyn bust, the face of the statue at City Hall was also painted black, and the words “Patriot Front” were painted on the torso.
The group’s logo was also used to deface a George Floyd mural earlier this month in Philadelphia.
A spokesperson for the Newark Police Department said the department isn’t aware of videos of the statue being vandalized. Newark officials are working with with county, state, federal police along with the New York City Police Department to investigate the vandalism.
“The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country,” Mayor Baraka said in a statement. “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.”
Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison on June 25 after denying his request for a new trial.