A 10-foot tall bronze-colored bust of George Floyd, whose murder by a police officer sparked a nationwide uprising against police brutality last year, was vandalized with gray paint Sunday morning in Union Square, according the NYPD, onlookers and the group that erected the statue.
The bust had been unveiled just three days earlier as part of a touring installation that also included sculptures of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky in March of 2020, and John Lewis, the late Congressman and civil rights activist who died last summer, shortly after Floyd was killed.
Surveillance footage around 10 a.m. captured a man on a skateboard crouching behind the bust of John Lewis mixing something in a container, then skating past the statue of Floyd, dumping the gray paint on the bust and skating away, an NYPD spokesperson said. No arrests had been made as of Sunday afternoon.
Once police officers took a report about the vandalism on Sunday morning, several volunteers in addition as the producer of the installation, started scrapping the gray paint away. Onlookers milled around the installation taking in the works of art, and the vandalism.
“This is what we deal with every day,” said John Caphert, 62, a Woodside resident, who is Black. “The paint doesn’t deface it all.”
Financial consultant Isaiah Burke, 31, said he drove into the city from Virginia to see the installation with his family.
“I was pulling by and I saw the paint I immediately got emotional,” said Burke, who is Black, adding he feared once the statue was cleaned up it would just be vandalized again. “It’s a representation of the country we live in. It’s racism, it’s hatred, ignorance all boiled into one.”
The same statue of Floyd was vandalized in June while it was on characterize in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The perpetrators then had marked the statue with a stencil for the far right white supremacist group Patriot Front. The group was also thought to be behind vandalism of another statue of Floyd in Newark, New Jersey.
Police released surveillance footage of the suspects in the June incident, though no arrests had been in made in that case as of Sunday, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed.
No stencil or insignia was found on the Union Square bust Sunday.
The three statues made by artist Chris Carnabuci and produced by the group Confront Art will be on characterize by Oct. 30, before they’ll be taken to other cities and later auctioned off for charity.
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