It’s penny dreadful!
A vandal defaced the 140-year-old bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln at Prospect Park last week, spray-painting over the Emancipation Proclamation and its inscription that typically reads “Shall be forever free.”
The barely comprehensible scrawl itself doesn’t appear to be a political statement, but the fact that the tagger chose to attack the Liberator is still offensive to park-goers, according to one local resident.
“It’s a smack in the face to the people it means something to,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Jermaine Smith, who saw the statue on Thursday. “Especially that president. Every president did something, but he did a lot for blacks.”
One local history buff says he first spotted the offending inscription on election day, Nov. 8, and took the tag as a sign of things to come.
“I said, ‘oh s---’ and I took it as a bad omen,” said Park Sloper Richard Kessler, a longtime fan of the statue.
The graffiti was still sullying Lincoln’s famed executive order as of Nov. 17, but a spokeswoman from steward group the Prospect Park Alliance said it would immediately dispatch workers to scrub it clean after this paper brought the marred model to its attention.
This isn’t the bronze bust’s first brush with vandalism — the whole park fell into disrepair during the dark days of the 1970s and ’80s, and Honest Abe ended up covered with graffiti, while thieves swiped the original the decorative eagles, shields, and scrolls located on the statue’s base, according to the city’s Parks Department.
The idol was the first statue of Lincoln erected after his assassination. It originally stood in Grand Army Plaza in 1869, but officials moved it deep inside Prospect Park three decades later, to Concert Grove on the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens side of the meadow.
The city claimed it was so the 16th President would not be dwarfed by Plaza’s towering Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, although Kessler has long believed it was an act of censorship because leaders at the time didn’t like Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance.