A famous statue of Jackie Robinson in New York was found defaced with hateful words on Wednesday, police said.
Anti-Semitic writing was discovered by staff of MCU Park in Coney Island — home of the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team — and New York police got a call around 8:30 a.m., said Detective Kellyann Ort.
The larger-than-life statue depicts Pee Wee Reese with his arm around Jackie Robinson — celebrated for being the first African American in the major leagues — in their Brooklyn Dodger uniforms.
MCU Park’s director of communications, Billy Harner, said that park maintenance employees were preparing the field for an 11 a.m. game when they found “vulgar writing that was both racist and anti-Semitic” and notified the park’s general manager.
Harner said in an email that the vandalism must have occurred sometime between midnight Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Harner said the words were written by the vandals in black marker. NBC New York reportedthat the graffiti included the n-word and a swastika and said “F--- Jackie Robinson.”
The words and symbols were on the base of the statue and the statue itself, said Harner. He said the Parks Department had an easy time getting the permanent marker off of the metal of the statue but have had difficulty removing the hateful words off the base. In the meantime, the base of the statue has been covered with a tarp, he said.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to remove all of the writing,” Harner said.
A statement from Harner and the General Manager of MCU read, "Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese embody the humanity and inclusiveness that make our borough, city and country great. It is both heartbreaking and deeply disturbing that this statue, which is a symbol of equality and tolerance, has been defaced in such an offensive and hateful way."
NBC New York reported that New York Sen. Chuck Schumer echoed the park operator’s feelings in a statement: "Defacing the Jackie Robinson statue is a dagger in the heart to everything America stands for, and I hope those who are responsible are caught, punished and taught why what they did is so disgusting and offensive."
Police have made no arrests related to the incident, said Ort. While no cameras focus solely on the statue, 36 cameras show the ballpark from various angles and MCU’s staff has turned all video over to police, Harner said.