The George Floyd statue that was unveiled on Juneteenth at 1545 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was discovered vandalized around 7:20 a.m. Thursday.
Police released surveillance video of four men wanted in connection to the vandalism incident in Brooklyn.
They say the video captures them walking near the scene before and after the incident.
After news broke of the vandalism in Brooklyn, officials in Newark announced they were also investigating the defacing of the George Floyd statue at City Hall that occurred overnight.
In Brooklyn, George Floyd's face and the statue's pedestal were spray-painted black with the wording "PatriotsFront.Us" spray-painted in white -- barely five days after it was unveiled.
Police say it happened in the middle of the night.
"I'm not gonna get emotional but to come up today, someone in the name of hate, came through the night and defaced it. In the night, when we couldn't see their face. They snuck in. It's really, really devastating," said statue producer Lindsay Eshelman. "They seem to be very aligned with the things that happened at the Capitol. They seem to be incredibly focused on patriotism, but in my eyes. This was not 'patriotism' this was terrorism."
The statue was unveiled on Juneteenth. It's made of wood-specifically, 200 individual sheets of plywood perfectly cut and bound together. And it was defaced on the eve of the sentencing of George Floyd's convicted killer, former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
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."
In Newark, police say the George Floyd statue there was defaced with graffiti. The face was also painted black and in white paint on the torso were the words: "LIFE...LIBERTY VICTORY PATRIOTFRONT.US".
The 700-bound bronze statue was unveiled in front of City Hall on June 16.
The statue of Floyd was created to honor the man whose police brutality death in Minneapolis last year sparked a movement for social justice.
"The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country," said 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 so, despite the ignorance that has reared its ugly head."
There have been no arrests at this time in either case. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident in Brooklyn.
While Newark Police are actively searching for the suspects in this incident, they asked for the public's help.
"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," Public Safety Director Brian A. 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."
Meanwhile Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed an investigation into the defacing of the George Floyd 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.
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