DETROIT -- Pictures of two slain white police officers,
signed "Courtesy of Fighting Whities," were found near "the fist" sculpture memorializing boxing great Joe Louis that was vandalized
with white paint, according to a police report released
One of the two men arrested in the case told police officers who
stopped them: "We did it for you guys," the report said.
Brett J. Cashman, 45, and John T. Price, 27, both of Superior
Township, entered not guilty pleas Tuesday to charges of malicious
destruction of property.
Magistrate Steve Lockhart ordered each man held on $10,000 bond.
He also said the men, if released, must be electronically tethered.
Lockhart said the vandalism, discovered early Monday at the
monument to the black heavyweight champion, was "on a par with
cross burning and hate speech, not political speech, and not just
speech, but an affirmative threat."
Price's attorney, David Rosenberg, said he thought the men may
have been trying to make a political statement. If so, it would be
wrong to put someone in jail for that, added Marc Beginin, attorney
for Cashman, who serves as a parks commissioner for Superior
"This country has a long history of political activism,"
The photocopies of pictures of two Detroit police officers
killed on duty last week were found at the base of the sculpture.
Written on the photocopies was: "Courtesy of Fighting Whities,"
the police report said.
Both slain officers were white. A black man was charged with the
The 8,000-pound sculpture, a 24-foot-long arm and fist suspended
from a frame, was seen by many people as an assertion of black
political power and triumph over injustice, but some critics said
when it was unveiled in 1986 that it was emblematic of violence in
Louis, a hometown hero in Detroit, was black.
The two suspects "haven't given police an exact reason why they
did it," Officer Glen Woods, a department spokesman, told the
Detroit Free Press. "An investigator said one of them has alluded
to the fist being representative of violence in Detroit."
Deputy Chief Tara Dunlop said Tuesday that she couldn't comment on a
possible motive or confirm Woods' statement.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday at a
telephone listing for Cashman; there was no telephone listing for
Price in Ypsilanti.
Police stopped the suspects in suburban Romulus after
authorities were tipped off by a motorist who saw two men covered
with white paint leaving the city before dawn, Romulus police Lt.
Cora Semrau said.
Firefighters used high-powered hoses to remove the gloss paint
from the sculpture, which was completed in 1986. Workers later removed the remaining paint after
consulting with the Detroit Institute of Arts, so as not to damage
"I feel like there are some stupid people out here," said
Jeffrey January, a Detroit resident who was standing across the
street from the statue Monday morning. "Joe Louis was an important
man to the city."
Louis, one of the greatest heavyweight fighters, knocked out
Germany's Max Schmeling for the title in June 1938. The sensational
first-round victory, heard by a nationwide radio audience, not only
avenged Louis' loss to Schmeling in a 1936 nontitle bout, it
countered Adolf Hilter's belief of Aryan supremacy.
Louis was born Joseph Louis Barrow in 1914 in Lexington, Ala.,
and moved to Detroit with his family when he was 12.
The Feb. 16 killings of Officers Jennifer Fettig and Matthew
Bowens have heightened concerns about violence in Detroit. In
January, 35 people were slain, nine more than in January 2003, and
the pace has continued in February.