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A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in California was vandalized with “horrific graffiti” in a despicable act that’s being investigated as a hate crime, officials say.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said the likeness of the civil rights icon at Martin Luther King Jr. Park was defaced over the July Fourth holiday weekend.
“The LBPD are investigating this as a hate crime and we are working to catch whoever committed this awful act,” Garcia tweeted Monday. “Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city.”
A photo posted to Twitter showed the statue spray-painted with what appeared to be a swastika and SS bolts — two common neo-Nazi and white supremacy symbols, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“This is the second time in two years that the Martin Luther King Jr. statue has been vandalized since it’s been up at MLK Park here in Long Beach,” the tweet read. “This city has a major hidden white supremacists issue and it needs to be addressed ASAP.”
A Long Beach police spokesman told The Post that cops responded to the park Friday afternoon for a report of hate or bias-motivated vandalism and discovered graffiti on the front of the statue.
The graffiti was later removed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, spokesman Richard Mejia said.
“The incident is being investigated as a hate crime,” Mejia wrote in an email. “No suspect information is available.”
The hateful graffiti is “no small issue,” Assistant Police Chief Wally Hebeish told the Long Beach Post.
“We are taking this as seriously as it has to be,” Hebeish said.
City officials replaced a plaque at the base of the statue in February that had been stolen in 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported. The likeness of King was reportedly installed at the acre-plus park in 1986.
“We must use this time creatively … and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right,” the plaque quoting King read.
Activists held a “Stand for Peace” rally at the park Saturday while calling for an end to hate in the California city southwest of Los Angeles. Some people held signs reading, “White silence is violence,” KTLA reported.
“Our hearts were broken when we saw the posts on social media,” organizer Mary Simmons told the Long Beach Post. “We can stand by and do nothing, or we can stand up against it.”
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