Racist vandals desecrated a statue of George Floyd in Flatbush on Thursday morning, spray painting black paint on the monument’s head and leaving behind the insignia of a notorious white supremacist group.
The statue — a 500-pound wooden bust of Floyd’s profile at Flatbush Junction — was unveiled last weekend as part of borough-wide Juneteenth celebrations, and was made by artist Chris Carnabuci in partnership with social justice-oriented art group ConfrontART and Floyd Family nonprofit We Are Floyd Foundation.
But shocked passersby on Thursday were dismayed to find the graffiti and the sign of the group Patriot Front, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist hate group.
Councilmember Farah Louis, who represents the area, described the defacement of the statue as an act of terrorism.
“This was a form of a hate crime, and for us it was also a form of a terrorist attack on our community,” Louis told Brooklyn Paper. “This statue represents a lot of things for our community and we feel that it was disrespectful and disgraceful.”
“It’s evident that they’re trying to send a clear message to us,” Louis continued. “And we have a clear message for them: that this will not be accepted in our community.”
Terrence Floyd, George’s Brooklyn-based brother who helms the We Are Floyd Foundation, was not available for comment at the statue’s location, as he was on a flight to Minneapolis Thursday afternoon to attend tomorrow’s sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who was found guilty of murdering Floyd last year.
“It is disgusting and sad that this transpired the day before the sentencing of Derek Chauvin,” said Courtney Nelson, a representative for the Floyd family. “And honestly, it just let us know that we were doing the right thing.”
The NYPD is conducting an investigation into the matter and has deemed the incident a possible hate crime, but has not identified any suspects. Cops are looking into security footage from the area to see if they can find anything, a police spokesperson said.
Louis said that cleanup and restoration will begin this afternoon. The bust was covered with a tarp after the damage was discovered, and the area was blocked off by police tape.
Lindsey Eschelman, of ConfrontART, said that the statue is intended to go on tour, with its next stop being Union Square, though that may get delayed due to the vandalism. She told Brooklyn Paper that “QAnon people” are talking about her online, which she finds troubling; she said she had to set her Instagram to private this morning.
“I didn’t expect myself as an art producer to be starting to get tagged in QAnon things on social media,” Eschelman said. “It’s alarming.”
This isn’t the first time Patriot Front’s insignia has appeared on artwork of Floyd. Earlier this month, a mural of Floyd in Philadelphia was defaced with the group’s logo.