Arrest made after anti-black graffiti sprawled on African burial ground

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- A 57-year-old man is in custody for allegedly defacing the African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan.

The suspect, Ivan Nieves, is accused of vandalizing the monument on November 1, using a marker to write an anti-black statement. He faces vandalism and disorderly conduct charges.

"The protections of the First Amendment allow all Americans to express their opinions without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. However, those protections do not apply when you deface federal property in the name of hate," Geoffrey Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

The site is known as the oldest and largest excavated gravesite for both free and enslaved Africans in the U.S.

This incident was the latest in a string of hate crimes across the city, including several anti-Semitic crimes in Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg.

The NYPD reported a total of 309 hate crimes from January to October, and 37 of those were anti-black attacks.

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