A statue of fabled Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese that stands outside MCU Park in Coney Island has been defaced with epithets that NYPD detectives are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.
A black marker was used to scrawl racial epithets, swastikas and the words “Heil Hitler” on the statue early Wednesday or possibly late Tuesday, said police.
An NYPD spokesman said police were looking into the incident as a possible bias crime.
No arrests were made as of press time.
The vandalism was discovered by the ballpark’s operations manager when he arrived to get the facility ready for a game, said Brooklyn Cyclones spokesman Bill Harner.
“Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese embodied the humanity and inclusiveness that make our borough, city and country great,” said Harner.
“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,” he added.
Writing on the metallic part of the statue was easily removed but offensive scrawlings on a stone pedestal had to be covered by cardboard before the crowd arrived for the 11 a.m. game, Harner said. Workers were trying to remove the writing on the pedestal last night.
The statue depicting a moment in 1947 when Reese placed his arm around Robinson — the first black player in the major leagues — as he was being heckled was erected outside MCU Park in November 2005, said Harner.
Brooklyn baseball fans were disgusted by the vandalism.
“Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. It’s outstanding and great that they built this statue and to do this, I think it’s incredibly horrible,” Jason Moore, 51, told Dnainfo.com.
Robinson played for the Dodgers until 1956. He died in 1972.