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‘Horrific’ graffiti on Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Southern California is being investigated as a hate crime, police say

By Brisa Colon, CNN

A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in Southern California was vandalized with a swastika and other “horrific” graffiti that police are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.

Officers from the Long Beach Police Department were called to King Park on Friday around 3:20 p.m. following reports the statue was vandalized with “hate/bias-motivated graffiti,” police said.

Officers discovered the graffiti covering the front of the statue, Long Beach police spokesman Richard Mejia said in a statement.

Police did not share a photo of the graffiti but an image posted on Twitter showed a black swastika spray-painted on the statue’s chest and SS bolts on a leg.

The SS bolts are “a common white supremacist/neo-Nazi symbol derived from Schutzstaffel (SS) of Nazi Germany,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Swastikas are hate symbols associated with Nazis.

The graffiti has since been removed and a hate crime investigation is underway, Mejia said. No information about a suspect was available.

“The Long Beach Police Department takes all reports of hate or bias-motivated incidents seriously. We value the diversity of our Long Beach community and are actively investigating this incident to hold the individual responsible accountable for their actions,” the department said.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia condemned the vandalism in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Over the holiday weekend our MLK statue at King Park was vandalized with horrific graffiti. The LBPD are investigating this as a hate crime and we are working to catch whoever committed this awful act,” he said.

“Our MLK Statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community. This hate and desecration has no place in our city,” he continued.

A spokesperson for Garcia said the mayor is working with the police department and community leaders to install security cameras near the statue.

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CNN’s Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.

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