George Floyd statue vandalism in NYC, Newark sparks outrage on day of Chauvin sentencing

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

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There is outrage in Brooklyn and in Newark after two statues to honor George Floyd were targeted by vandals on the day of George Chauvin's sentencing.

Former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison on Friday for the murder of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, police are now looking for four men who defaced a statue of Floyd in Brooklyn ahead of the sentencing.

The statue was unveiled on Juneteenth at 1545 Flatbush Avenue.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is investigating after police say four men seen in surveillance video spray-painted the statue and pedestal black, then tagged it with a website for a fascist neo-Nazi group in white early Thursday morning.

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

Another Floyd statue in Newark was also vandalized around the same time.

The bronze statue that sits at City Hall was unveiled on June 16.

It was hit with graffiti and the same website.

"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 Brooklyn statue is made of wood-specifically, 200 individual sheets of plywood perfectly cut and bound together.

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."

The NYPD has deployed extra officers on patrol throughout New York City Friday ahead of the sentencing.

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.

Floyd's family will read victim impact statements at Chauvin's sentencing.

Prosecutors are asking for Chauvin to serve 30 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge.

Sentencing starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

ALSO READ | Our America: Meet Opal Lee, the grandmother of Juneteenth


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