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NEWARK, NJ — Vandals defaced a statue of George Floyd in Newark overnight, police said Thursday.

The message on the statue directed people to a website for a white nationalist group. A similar message was painted onto a statue of Floyd in Brooklyn. It’s been a trend around the country, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“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,” Baraka said. “We celebrate those efforts in Newark, and will continue to do so, despite the ignorance that has reared its ugly head.”

Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara said he was in communication with federal, state and county law enforcement partners, along with the NYPD.

“It’s disgusting that what was meant to be a symbol of the dignity of all human life would be disfigured by those who espouse hate,” Director O’Hara said. “I stand in solidarity with Mayor Baraka as we pledge to ensure that the criminals who committed this crime are brought to justice. Hate has no place in our community.”

The vandalism was spotted just before 6 a.m., officials said. Newark’s Public Works Department responded to remove black paint on the statue’s face and white paint on the torso that says “LIFE…LIBERTY AND VICTORY,” along with the URL that appears to be associated with a white nationalist hate group.

The statue in Newark is meant to celebrate Floyd’s life. Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes

Police asked for help identifying the suspects in the vandalism.

George Floyd statue in Brooklyn vandalized

Anonymous tips may also be made using the Police Division’s website at: www.newarkpd.org or through our Smartphone App available at iTunes or on Google Play. Search Newark Police Division to download the App.