Hate speech on MLK bridge prompted quick removal


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Vandals strike again on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge over the weekend. Hate speech was written on the benches. This is the second time in a couple weeks vandals have defaced the iconic landmark.

City crews spent their Monday morning wiping off the speech. Frank Suarez, Department of Public Works spokesperson, said this bridge has been vandalized at least a dozen times since the start of the year. Suarez mentioned crews were also out Monday morning repairing more vandalized items near the bridge.

“This morning we were out on the trail and we were actually painting a wall, or a section of the trail, where there was some damage was done over the weekend as well,” Suarez said.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation has also been targeted recently. There was hate speech on a statue that sits in a section of Lawton Park off of Spy Run and Tennessee Avenues. NewsChannel 15 contacted the Parks and Recreation Department to make them aware of the issue.

“We notify the police department as they track various graffiti symbols and wording,” said Steve McDaniel, Parks and Recreation Department deputy director. “We use various things to remove the graffiti like cleaners and power washers to remove the paints. If these options fail, then our final option is to paint over the area with solid paint to cover everything up.”

McDaniels said though vandalism and graffiti do happen in the parks, it’s doesn’t happen as often as people may think. He said majority of people have respect for the park and the facilities.

Bill Brown, president of the Downtown Improvement District, was contacted by NewsChannel 15 two weeks ago when someone used our ReportIt feature to send in a photo of Dr. King’s face painted over with a smiley face. He came out and cleaned it off himself. He said these activities are isolated activities and don’t reflect the city’s values.

“It’s got to be a micro, probably just one person is the key component to this because I think our community is way, way better than what was put there on the bench,” said Brown.

City and community members want people to call 911 if they see anyone actively vandalizing city properties. If you see vandalize on city property, you can call 311.

Local NAACP leaders want people to send letters to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s Hate Crime Task Force about the recent vandalism that has happened. They’re hoping to raise money to put security cameras in the area.

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