The New York Daily News is offering $10,000 for tips that will lead to an arrest of the individuals responsible for the hateful desecration of the iconic memorial outside the New York Mets minor-league affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones ballpark. The paper wrote a scathing report, rightfully calling the perpetrator a “hate-filled coward” and noting that the act was “despicable.”
Reactions from Robinson’s former teammate hammered home the senselessness of the crime. “I have no idea why anyone would do that,” said Ralph Branca, 87, to the News. “The statue signified a great moment in American history.”
New York Senator Chuck Schumer delivered a message to the vandals after a surprise visit to MCU Park in Coney Island. “I hope you’re punished for what you did because what [you] did put a dagger in the heart of what America is all about,” Schumer said. “That there are still people who don’t understand what Jackie Robinson stood for in his grace, and his strength and the beautiful person he was.”
The statue was marked with the words “Die N—er” and “F— N—ers” crudely scrawled at the base of the statue. A swastika was also found on the statue as well. Workers at the park were forced to cover the base of the statue as part of the cleaning effort. As of Wednesday evening, part of the structure is still covered.
The statue is one of the most iconic moments in baseball history.
Robinson, the first Black man to play in the majors, took the field in Cincinnati at first base during his rookie year in 1947. Fans taunted him with slurs and insults during the game when suddenly, shortstop Pee Wee Reese, a white man, walked over to Robinson and put his arm around the player in support. The statue was built to commemorate that bonding moment, and stood unscathed since being erected at the park in 2005.
Police are investigating this as a hate crime and are reviewing surveillance video of the scene which will hopefully aid in the capture of the vandals.
Visit the gallery on the following pages to see photos of the statue.
Photos: New York Daily News, DCPI