MLK Jr. statue vandalism prompts California hate crime investigation

A statue of Martin Luther King Jr., standing tall with his hand raised forward, was vandalized with hate symbols over the Fourth of July weekend in a California park.

The statue, meant to represent “hope and justice” in the city of Long Beach, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, was spray-painted with a swastika and SS Bolts. The graffiti has since been cleaned by the city’s parks and recreation department.

The Long Beach Police Department told USA TODAY on Monday that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. There were no suspects as of Monday night, police said.

Originally named 19th Street Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. Park introduced the statue and new name after the civil rights activist was assassinated in 1968.

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