A statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese vandalized with racist graffiti was re-dedicated in a ceremony Monday night as part of what officials called "Unity Day." NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Members of the Jackie Robinson Little League posed below a statue of the league's namesake outside MCU Park in Coney Island Monday, joining dignitaries for the statue's re-dedication.
Politicians and community leaders and Brooklyn and sports enthusiasts called this day one of unity.
"We won, and these mutants lost," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Nearly two weeks ago, vandals wrote the N-word and the name "Hitler" on the statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese.
"It was blatant," said Cesar Calata, a worker at MCU Park. "It was just right there in your face."
Calata said he cleaned off the words scrawled on Jackie Robinson's legs but couldn't get the graffiti off of the porous material at the base. So workers with the Department of Parks and Recreation spent several days blasting the base with water and sand.
"Then, another member of the monuments crew from NYC Parks came out and basically painted in all of the letters, which you can see, all the letters had to be re-painted in," said Parks Commissioner Veronica White. "
Now, the statue looks the way it did in 2005, when it was dedicated to honor the friendship between teammates Reese and Robinson as number 42 took the field as a Brooklyn Dodger more than 60 years ago, when Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.
Residents say the statue will remind them of what's best in us, but many still want those who tried to mar the memory to pay a price.
"We don't want to dwell on the punks that committed these act, but one thing I want you to know, I want them to be apprehended," Markowitz said.
Several organizations have banded together to offer more than $50,000 in reward money for an arrest and conviction of those responsible. Now, at least two security cameras remain focused on the statue in order to keep it protected in the future.