FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — A statue of George Floyd in Brooklyn was found vandalized on Thursday morning, less than a week after it was unveiled as part of a Juneteenth rally.
Vandals sprayed black paint onto the 6-foot-tall sculpture at Nostrand and Flatbush avenues. On the pedestal, they painted a URL that appears to be associated with a white nationalist hate group.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes.
The pedestal of the statue honoring him was created with a quote from his brother on it.
“Pay attention and continue to keep my big brother’s name ringing in the ears of everyone,” the quote from Terrence Floyd reads.
The pedestal was covered after the vandalism was discovered.
The George Floyd statue will be cleaned, according to Lindsay Eshelman, co-founder of Confront Art, which produced the statue.
“The statue was completely defaced,” she said. “We’re devastated because this art meant so much more than just George Floyd, it meant a movement. It was a tribute to his family and it was a tribute to his community.”
There had been requests from the community for Confront Art to bring the statue there, Eshelman said.
“I’m not shocked that this happened to the statue, I’m shocked that this happened in this area,” she said.
Police said the vandalism would be investigated as a hate crime.
Late Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the monument was “a testament to the grief, anger, and righteous energy that his murder sparked, in our state and across the country. It’s a beacon for all who believe progress is possible, and in our ability to make it happen.”
He said state troopers would also investigate.
“I am directing the New York State Police Hates Crimes Task Force to offer their assistance in the investigation of this incident,” he said. “And to the group of neo-Nazis who did this, I want to be absolutely clear: get the hell out of our state.”
No arrests have been made, but the NYPD release surveillance images of four men being sought in connection to the incident.
Video shows at least one of the men appearing to shake a can of spray paint as he walk down the sidewalk with the group; police said the video was taken before the incident.
The photos released by police show the unidentified men walking in the vicinity of the Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn College subway station.
Later on Thursday is follows Newark Public Safety confirming that the statue of Floyd in Newark, a gift to the city, had also been vandalized overnight Wednesday. The rhetoric on the statues was similar.
The Brooklyn Floyd statue’s project designers and members of the community all took part in the lengthy restoration process Thursday — a job which is far from over.
“We wanted the art to speak for itself and spark a conversation and a dialogue that we want to keep moving forward,” said Lindsay Eschelman, the project’s designer. “We wanted this monument to be movement, and this isn’t going to stop us.”
Community members PIX11 spoke with were upset by the act, and surprised no arrests had been made considering the surveillance in the area.
Councilmember Farah Louis said she’s in constant contact with the NYPD regarding its ongoing investigation.
“For someone to come and disrespect our community and come and do this, we’re ready to fight back,” Louis said. “We are going to work together collectively to make sure this never happens again.”