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Jackie Robinson statue defaced in Coney Island; NYPD probes as bias crime

A worker covers the base of the Jackie

A worker covers the base of the Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese statue outside of the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium in Coney Island. (Aug. 7, 2013) Credit: Neil Miller/New York Daily News

A statue of fabled baseball players Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese that stands outside MCU Park on Coney Island has been defaced with epithets that NYPD detectives are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.

The statue depicts a moment in 1947 when Reese walked out on a ballfield and placed his arm around Robinson -- the first black player in the major leagues -- when he was being heckled. It was erected in November 2005 outside MCU Park, said Bill Harner, spokesman for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets farm team that plays at the park.

The iconic moment happened at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, the year Robinson integrated the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A black marker was used to scrawl racial epithets, swastikas and the words "Heil Hitler" on the statue either early Wednesday, or late Tuesday, police said.

An NYPD spokesman said the writing was considered a possible bias crime and there had been no arrests.

The vandalism was discovered by the ballpark's operations manager around 8:30 a.m. Workers were still struggling to clean the stone pedestal.

"It is both heartbreaking and deeply disturbing that this statue, which is the symbol of equality and tolerance, has been defaced in such an offensive and hateful way," Harner said.

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