The bronze statue of Jackie Robinson was unveiled in Wichita in early 2021. In late January, perpetrators cut off the statue at the ankles, leaving only a pair of shoes (right).
Police are investigating the destruction of a life-size statue of Jackie Robinson, which was stolen from a park in Wichita, Kansas. Just after midnight on January 25, vandals entered McAdams Park and cut the statue at its ankles. All that remained was a pair of bronze shoes standing on a base.
A few days later, police received reports of a fire in a trash can at Garvey Park, located roughly seven miles away. When they responded, they found charred pieces of the statue. In early 2021, League 42, a youth baseball nonprofit in Wichita, unveiled the statue to commemorate the pioneering civil rights leader and professional baseball player. Robinson’s jersey number, 42, is the league’s namesake
According to the Boston Globe, “As of Wednesday, Wichita police have not publicly identified persons of interest, made any arrests, or determined a motive. But it’s not just that the statue was destroyed. It was desecrated with a level of malice that seemed to evoke the extreme violence that has targeted Black people for centuries.
States editorial writer Renee Graham from the Globe, “This comes at a time when nearly every morsel of the racial reckoning that wasn’t after the police murder of George Floyd in 2020 has been pushed aside for a full-blown white backlash that continues to expand. Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are being legislated out of existence on college campuses and phased out in corporate America. American history that tells the truth about racist subjugation and Black excellence, instead of continuing to exalt white supremacy, is being expunged from public school curriculums.”
Wichita officials are speaking carefully. In a rather guarded statement, the Executive Director of League 42 said, ““If it turns out it was racially motivated, then obviously that is a deeper societal issue, and it certainly would make this a much more concerning theft,” Bob Lutz, executive director of League 42, tells Heather Hollingsworth of the Associated Press (AP). “We’ll wait and see what this turns out to be.”