Hate Graffiti Reported
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The well-known statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese in MCU Park at Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, was vandalized with hate graffiti late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
The statue, meant to symbolize brotherhood, was created by sculptor William Behrends in 2005. It commemorates an incident in Robinson’s rookie year, 1947, when Reese, who was Robinson’s teammate on the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked onto the infield and put his arm around Robinson in a gesture of friendship.
At the time, Robinson was being subjected to racist catcalls and threats on a regular basis. The incident is re-enacted in the recent film about Robinson, “42.”
Cyclones spokesman Billy Harner, who confirmed the reports, said the Cyclones had been playing the Connecticut Tigers at MCU Park Tuesday night. Thus, the vandalism would have happened after the game.
Harner added that workers were already cleaning the graffiti off the statue early Wednesday morning in preparation for another game with the Tigers -- which began at 11 a.m.. Sources told the Eagle that the graffiti was racist in nature and included swastikas and the words "Heil Hitler."
Police were on the scene Thursday morning, looking at video surveillance tapes of the area for clues about the incident. The statue, which is just outside the stadium's entry gates, is technically on land owned by the New York City Parks Department.
Officials were quick to condemn the vandalism.
In a joint statement, Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island-Gravesend) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "We’re appalled by the racist graffiti that defaced the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park in Brooklyn. We condemn this hateful act of vandalism, it does not represent the views of Brooklyn or any community of our great city. Jackie Robinson made history by breaking down barriers; he inspired a nation in his pursuit of equality."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, “This city doesn’t belong to whoever committed this act of hate. They will be caught. But Jackie Robinson’s legacy lives on in all of us. We’ll fight to preserve it in the face of bigotry and racism. I commend the NYPD for investigating swiftly so we can apprehend the perpetrators before they spread more hate in our communities.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz said, “I am beyond disgusted by the defacing of this monument to tolerance and civil rights in America’s Playground. This reprehensible behavior is a direct affront to the millions of Brooklynites that stand for diversity and respect. Whatever socially disconnected individual is responsible for this racist, anti-Semitic and frankly antisocial act is clearly consumed by self-hate."
Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park), State Senator Eric Adams and community activist Mark Treyger are offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the incident. They are calling on anyone with information to contact the NYPD at 1-800-577-TIPS.