A group of vandals believed to be associated with a neo-fascist group defaced a pair of brand new George Floyd statues in New York and New Jersey this week, authorities said.
In Brooklyn, a six-foot monument to Floyd that was erected on Flatbush Avenue last Saturday, as part of a Juneteenth celebration, was found covered in black paint on Thursday morning. The pedestal was also marked with a stencil promoting Patriot Front, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a white nationalist organization.
The vandalism was discovered on Thursday morning, one day before the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering Floyd. The NYPD has since published surveillance photos of four men believed to be responsible for the incident. Community members were seen cleaning the statue on Thursday afternoon.
Authorities reported a near identical act of vandalism in Newark, New Jersey overnight on Wednesday. Outside the City Hall there, another new Floyd monument was defaced with black and white paint, as well as the Patriot Front website.
Earlier this month, a George Floyd mural in Philadelphia was also vandalized with stencils bearing the group’s name, along with slogans such as “To ourselves and our posterity,” and “Not stolen, conquered.”
Patriot Front was formed in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville as an offshoot of the neo-fascist organization Vanguard America, and is now considered one of the most active white supremacist groups in the country. It’s members — known for wearing beige khakis, sunglasses, white caps, and face coverings — have staged multiple anonymous actions in New York.
“These guys don’t scare me. They don’t scare anyone. But I don’t like the concern they raise in a given community,” said Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a longtime organizer with One People’s Project, who has closely tracked the group. “They’re snowflakes. They’re cowards.”
Ahead of the 2020 election, Patriot Front recruiting posters popped up in Bay Ridge, and alleged members of the group were spotted unfurling a banner from the Belt Parkway
A spokesperson for the NYPD declined to say if the police had identified members of the group as suspects in the vandalism of the statue. The incident is being investigated as a bias crime.
In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that state police would help investigate the Brooklyn incident. “I’m going to be absolutely clear with the neo-Nazi group that did this: get out of our state,” he wrote.