A statue of Martin Luther King Jr., standing tall with his hand raised forward, was vandalized with hate symbols over the Fourth of July weekend in a California park.
The statue, meant to represent “hope and justice” in the city of Long Beach, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, was spray-painted with a swastika and SS Bolts. The graffiti has since been cleaned by the city’s parks and recreation department.
The Long Beach Police Department told USA TODAY on Monday that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. There were no suspects as of Monday night, police said.
Originally named 19th Street Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. Park introduced the statue and new name after the civil rights activist was assassinated in 1968.
On Twitter, Al Austin II, a member of the Long Beach City Council, said he was “shocked and disheartened” by the vandalism.
“It’s troubling that this act happened in a core area of our LB Black community,” Austin tweeted.
The AOC7 Neighborhood group organized a peaceful rally on July 3, a day after police reported to the call of vandalism, bringing together residents to stand in front of the statue and share their feelings about the vandalism.
“Thank you for joining us today and standing for peace with us!” the group posted later that day on their Facebook page.
Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted Monday about the investigation saying, “We are working to catch whoever committed this awful act.”
He added, “Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city.”