Workers removing spray paint from Jackie Robinson statue in Coney Island on Aug. 7, 2013 (credit: Glenn Schuck/1010 WINS via CBS New York)
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park in Coney Island has been vandalized.
Somebody spray-painted swastikas and racist slurs on the statue which depicts Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese in a famous pose from 1947, 1010 WINS reported.
Brooklyn Cyclones' officials made the disturbing discovery when they arrived at the park Wednesday morning.
"Immediately we went into action to try to clean it and remove the graffiti," Billy Harner, Director of Communications for the Brooklyn Cyclones, told 1010 WINS.
Crews worked to remove the vandalism from the base of the statue ahead of the 11 a.m. game between the Cyclones and the Connecticut Tigers. They covered the words of hate with duct tape and later a black tarp after the solution crews were using to clean the statue failed to remove the paint, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.
Fans arriving at the game shook their heads in disbelief.
"History-making this man was, especially in Brooklyn," one man said. "It's horrific, I don't know who would do such a thing."
"It's such a beautiful monument, representing what the country is based on," another man said. "It's a tragedy."
The hateful graffiti goes against everything the statue stands for.
Its inscription reads:
"This monument honors Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese: teammates, friends, and men of courage and conviction. Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Reese supported him, and together they made history. In May 1947, on Cincinnati's Crosley Field, Robinson endured racist taunts, jeers, and death threats that would have broken the spirit of a lesser man. Reese, captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked over to his teammate Robinson and stood by his side, silencing the taunts of the crowd. This simple gesture challenged prejudice and created a powerful and enduring friendship."
Police are investigating the incident.
"We have video surveillance of the area, we're looking at the tapes to investigate exactly what took place," Harner said.
The statue by sculptor William Behrends was unveiled at the park in November 2005.
The Cyclones are a Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets.