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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York Daily News is offering a $10,000 reward for “information leading to an arrest and conviction” of the person or persons who defaced the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park in Coney Island with swastikas and racial slurs.
A swastika, along with the phrases “Heil Hitler,” “die n—–,” “f— n—–,” and “f— Jackie Robinson” were found scrawled on the statue Wednesday in permanent marker. The statue depicts Robinson and fellow Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese in a famous pose from 1947, the year Robinson broke the major league color barrier.
“It was disgusting,” Patrick Gabour, a volunteer who helped scrub off the offensive slurs in front of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ ballpark, told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman.
The Daily News put its offer of a reward on Thursday’s front page. The paper urged anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
“I have no idea why anyone would do that,” Robinson’s friend and former Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Ralph Branca told the paper. “The statue signified a great moment in American history.”
Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 and died 10 years later. His widow, Rachel, has been working to fund a Jackie Robinson Museum in Manhattan.
“Almost every Saturday morning I stop by the statue on my bike, and am deeply moved each time,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “Defacing the Jackie Robinson statue is a dagger in the heart to everything America stands for, and I hope those who are responsible are caught, punished, and taught why what they did is so disgusting and offensive.”
Police said they would review surveillance video and search for suspects, who will be charged with hate crimes.
Cyclones officials made the disturbing discovery when they arrived at the park Wednesday morning. After the vandalism was blocked from public view, a cleanup crew sprayed, scrubbed and power washed.
“Immediately we went into action to try to clean it and remove the graffiti,” Cyclones director of communications Billy Harner told 1010 WINS.
The Cyclones are a Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The statue by sculptor William Behrends was unveiled at the park in November 2005.
“We have 36 security cameras around the ballpark. Unfortunately, from right now I don’t think we’re going to see anything directly,” said Cyclones general manager Steve Cohen. “We got a bad apple and if they don’t catch him, I’m certain karma is … as they say.”
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