Swastika, slurs foul Robinson statue

Police are probing racist graffiti found on the famous Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese statue in Brooklyn as a hate crime. Courtesy of Brooklyn Cyclones

NEW YORK -- Employees of the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets affiliate, arrived at work Wednesday morning to find swastikas and racial and anti-Semitic epithets painted on a statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese that is on display outside MCU Park.

The statue shows Reese with his arm around Robinson and commemorates the moment at Cincinnati's Crosley Field when Reese, playing before his family, showed his solidarity with Robinson amid ugly backlash about the integration of Major League Baseball. The moment was recreated in the recent movie "42."

The New York City Police Department is investigating the incident at the Coney Island ballpark. There is video surveillance outside the ballpark, a Cyclones spokesman said.

"This is being treated as a bias crime," detective John Nevandro of the 60th precinct said in a statement. "Hate Crimes will investigate the incident."

Team employees successfully removed the graffiti from the metallic statue but were having difficulty eradicating it from the stone base. They covered up what could not be removed so fans were not subjected to seeing the epithets upon arriving for a day game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Connecticut Tigers.

The New York City Parks Department, which is charged with maintaining the statue, has dispatched help to treat the statue's base.