The Jackie Robinson statue stolen last week from a Wichita park was found Tuesday in a trash can, burned and dismantled.
A Jackie Robinson statue was found burned and dismantled in a Wichita trash can
by aparodyoflife ·
Police spokesman Andrew Ford described the original statue as “unsalvageable at this time” and said fire department personnel discovered “pieces” of it after the fire was extinguished.
Ford told reporters that while the fire department is investigating the possibility of arson, police are continuing their search for those who stole and disposed of the statue, as well as anyone who may have provided assistance.
Erected in 2021 by League 42, a youth baseball organization named after Robinson’s jersey number, the statue was placed in Wichita’s McAdams Park, which includes baseball fields and other sports facilities named after prominent members of the city’s black community. While McAdams Park is located in the northern half of the city, Garvey Park is located at the southern end of Wichita, about seven miles away.
The statue was found on Thursday with only Robinson’s shoes and the base underneath remaining. Everything above was cut up and removed in a truck, police said.
Police said on Monday that they had found the pickup truck believed to have been used in the robbery, adding that they did not believe the vehicle was stolen. No arrests have been made in the case.
Police have conducted “more than 100 interviews” and are tracking down leads, including using technology such as surveillance video and Ring-style home doorbells, Ford said Tuesday.
Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said at Tuesday’s news conference that the discovery of the statue was “a direct indication of the pressure our investigators are putting on the perpetrators of this act.”
“There will be arrests, but we will make sure that when we do, we will have a strong case,” he said.
Sullivan added that it was “really disappointing to see the remains of the statue and the disgraceful way it has been disrespected.”
Jackie Robinson in every sport
Robinson, who starred for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956, was a civil rights pioneer who broke the color line in Major League Baseball. In 1997, MLB honored Robinson by permanently retiring No. 42 to all of his teams.
Robinson’s first season in professional baseball was 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. He spent the 1946 season with the Dodgers’ top affiliate in Montreal before Brooklyn called him up the following year.
When Robinson’s statue was unveiled at McAdams Park in 2021, a 42nd league official said the goal was to help young athletes and other visitors see “how much of an inspiration he was, not just to African Americans and people of color but to everyone in this entire community.” “
Bob Lutz, director of the 42nd League, told reporters on Tuesday that the discovery of the destroyed statue “was not the result we wanted, but it is an outcome, and now we can move forward.”
Although the statue’s sculptor has died, the original mold “is still viable,” Lutz added.
“We knew we were going to be incorporating a completely new statue that looked exactly like the old one,” Lutz said. “Within months, it will be erected in McAdams Park, and we are looking forward to that day. … We are ready for some joy.”
The theft and destruction of Robinson’s statue occurred days before the start of Black History Month.
“If it turns out to be racially motivated, that is clearly a deeper societal issue and that would certainly make it even more troubling,” Lutz told The Associated Press. “We’ll wait and see what that turns out to be.”