George Floyd statues vandalized in NJ, NYC ahead of Derek Chauvin's sentencing

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Friday, June 25, 2021
Vandalism of Floyd statues ahead of Chauvin sentencing
Diana Rocco reports on the vandalism of the statues of George Floyd.

NEWARK, New Jersey -- Authorities in northern New Jersey are investigating after the defacing of the George Floyd statue.

A similar incident in Brooklyn, New York is also under investigation.

Just before 6 a.m. Thursday, a Newark police sergeant in the area of City Hall, located at 920 Broad Street, noticed the statue of George Floyd was defaced with graffiti.

The face of the statue was painted black and words - a website for a fascist neo-Nazi group - were written in white on the torso, authorities said.

The Newark Police Division is investigating. The City's Public Works Department responded to remove the paint.

"The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "This horrible act is the very reason that this statue needs to remain and be upheld. As this is not just about George Floyd, it's a deliberate effort to push back against and ultimately dismantle systems of hatred, racism, and white supremacy. We celebrate those efforts in Newark, and will continue to do so, despite the ignorance that has reared its ugly head."

The 700-pound bronze statue was unveiled in front of Newark City Hall on June 16.

RELATED: 700-pound statue of George Floyd unveiled at City Hall in Newark, NJ

The 700-pound bronze statue of George Floyd was unveiled at City Hall in Newark, New Jersey.

It was commissioned by actor, director and filmmaker Leon Pickney.

The statue was sculpted by artist Stanley Watts and donated to the City of Newark with a plan to stand in front of City Hall for at least one year in collaboration with the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of George Floyd. He will be sentenced on Friday.

"The Newark Police Division 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," Newark Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara said. "The Newark Police Division is vigorously investigating this incident to identify those responsible for this despicable act."

Around the same time, a George Floyd statue in Brooklyn was also vandalized.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is investigating after police say four men seen in surveillance video spray-painted the statue and pedestal, then tagged it with the same website.

They say the video captures the suspects walking near the scene before and after the incident.

The Brooklyn statue was unveiled on Juneteenth.

"We are aware of a similar incident in Brooklyn, and are in communication with our federal, state, and county law enforcement partners, as well as the New York City police. It's disgusting that what was meant to be a symbol of the dignity of all human life would be disfigured by those who espouse hate," O'Hara said. "I stand in solidarity with Mayor Baraka as we pledge to ensure that the criminals who committed this crime are brought to justice. Hate has no place in our community."

Floyd family spokesperson Courtney Nelson believes it's no coincidence.

"It's only been five days, and it's very disheartening," Nelson said. "And it's disgusting and it's sad and it's cowardly. And they did it like a thief in the night. But you can't stop us."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed an investigation into the defacing of the statue in Brooklyn.

"New York's new monument to George Floyd, which was unveiled in Brooklyn just this past weekend, on Juneteenth, is more than just a memorial for a father, a son, and a friend -- it's a testament to the grief, anger, and righteous energy that his murder sparked, in our state and across the country. It's a beacon for all who believe progress is possible, and in our ability to make it happen," Cuomo said.

He said the attack on the statue is an attack on all New Yorkers and the values the state stands for.

"And to the group of neo-Nazis who did this, I want to be absolutely clear: get the hell out of our state," Cuomo said.