‘Shameful’: George Floyd statues, unveiled for Juneteenth, vandalized in NYC, New Jersey

Two statues of George Floyd recently unveiled to mark Juneteenth were vandalized this week, and the New York Police Department is investigating one incident as a hate crime.

Four people defaced a 6-foot wooden sculpture of Floyd’s head in Brooklyn just before 4 a.m. Thursday, according to police. The suspects covered the monument with black spray paint and stenciled words referencing a group the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as a “white nationalist hate group.”

Police released surveillance video of the suspects approaching and leaving the area with cans of spray paint and called for the public’s help in identifying them.

George Floyd’s brother, Terrence, local elected officials and others unveiled the statue by artist Chris Carnabuci as part of a Juneteenth rally. The statue was expected to be on display at Brooklyn’s Flatbush Junction for several weeks before moving to Union Square in Manhattan, according to the office of New York Council Member Farah Louis.

‘Larger than life’: George Floyd statues unveiled to mark Juneteenth in US cities

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Terrance Floyd speaks at the unveiling of a statute dedicated to his brother George Floyd at Flatbush Junction on June 19, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo: David Dee Delgado, Getty Images)

“Let us be clear: this is a shameful act, a hate crime and totally disrespectful to the memory of Mr. Floyd and to the Black community as well our efforts to achieve racial justice and equality. And we will not be deterred,” Louis said in the statement.

Meanwhile, a 700-pound bronze statue of Floyd outside city hall in Newark, New Jersey, was vandalized overnight Wednesday, according to police. The face of the statue was also painted black, with words written on the torso in white paint.

Mayor Baraka and Public Safety Director O’Hara Announce Police Investigation of George Floyd Statue Defacing at City Hall https://t.co/OEiIfFAMro via @Nextdoorpic.twitter.com/ln7IvXj7kv

“The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said in a statement. “This horrible act is the very reason that this statue needs to remain and be upheld.”

Newark police “will not tolerate any bias or hate crime, let alone one perpetrated by a white nationalist group that espouses the overthrow of the constitution and government of the United States,” said Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara. He added Newark police knew of the “similar incident” in Brooklyn.

Analysis: ‘White America can keep kicking Derek Chauvin,’ but what does it mean for systemic change?

George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day 2020 as bystanders recorded video of the incident and pleaded with officers. His death spurred thousands of protests against police brutality in the U.S. and abroad and reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement.

A jury found Chauvin guilty of murder in April, and he was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison.

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