Last week, a Jackie Robinson statue that stood outside the League 42 youth baseball fields in Wichita, Kansas was torn down and hauled off by vandals. On Tuesday, pieces of that statue were found burnt in Garvey Park, according to KAKE.
Surveillance footage from the initial vandalism showed a brown pickup truck arriving at Jackie Robinson Pavilion outside the League 42 fields while “at least two people” ripped down the statue before driving it away. Authorities had been searching for the statue since it was found missing, and their search ended on Tuesday morning.
The Wichita Fire Department received a call about a trash can on fire at Garvey Park at 8:40 a.m., per the KAKE report. After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters discovered pieces of the Robinson statue that had been torched.
In a press conference, Councilman Brandon Johnson vowed to put another statue up in place of the one that was destroyed.
“We will make sure that we find a way to get that statue back,” Johnson said. “We will continue to invest in this community, and this tragic incident will not remove that hope that we all have for the area.”
On that front, League 42 founder and director Bob Lutz said the mold from the original statue is still intact. The park will now be able to get a replica of the original Robinson statue, which was created by John Parsons.
“Fortunately, the mold from his work is still viable, and the statue that reappears at McAdams Park will be the work of John Parsons,” Lutz said, per KAKE.
The police are still searching for suspects in the crime, but they have recovered what they believe could be the pickup truck used to steal the statue from League 42 fields.
The Robinson statue, which now consists of just a pair of cleats, stood outside of the League 42 youth baseball fields. Lutz started the program in 2013, renovating McAdams Park in hopes of making baseball more accessible to people from all walks of life. The statue itself was erected in 2021 when the Jackie Robinson Pavilion was constructed.