RICHMOND, Va. -- A red, spray painted X was discovered on the Police Memorial statue in Richmond Wednesday morning. The words "JUSTICE FOR ALTON" were painted along the base of the memorial. Red paint also covered the faces of the officer and child on the statue.
Richmond Police Deputy Chief Steve Drew called the incident unfortunate. He said crews would clean up the mess within 24 hours and the department would move on.
“This is a cowardly act to come and want to air his or her grievances here at a memorial in honor of the 28 police officers who probably protected and served these or this individual, again it’s very disheartening,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said.
The vandalism comes days after a weekend threat phoned in to police was deemed not credible by Richmond Police and hours after hundreds of people filled the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School auditorium for a conversation about ending violence.
Drew called the vandalism not representative of the relationship between police and the Richmond community.
“These are trying times for law enforcement, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure we don’t have those incidents you see across the country,”
On Tuesday, Richmond Police tweeted a photo of the memorial and thanked those who have placed flowers there in the wake of the shooting deaths of five Dallas officers.
Richmond Police recently moved the memorial to Byrd Park from its previous home outside the Richmond Coliseum. The move was made to give the memorial a more prominent spot.
"For 28 years, the Police Memorial Statue stood under the trees in a corner of Festival Park. Some thought the statue didn't get the appreciation it deserved there," Richmond Police posted on YouTube. "Thanks to the Relocation Committee - it took a journey Friday, June 24, to its new site in Byrd Park - where it will enjoy greater visibility."
The vandalism references "Justice for Alton."
Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers outside a store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week. The next day police in Minnesota shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop.
Their deaths touched off massive protests in the United States.
During one of those protests in Dallas on Thursday, Micah Xavier Johnson killed five Dallas police officers who were working during the demonstration.
Chief Durham said the person or persons responsible for the vandalism should have aired their grievances at a community forum Tuesday night as opposed to taking their anger out on the memorial.
“I’m asking that person you were bold enough to do this, stand up for what you did and come and see us,” Durham said.