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The New MLK Statue at MacGregor Park Was Vandalized This Weekend

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In today's random vandalism news, vandals were caught striking a massive bronze statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in a local park over the weekend, but no one's sure exactly why.

A city park ranger was completing a routine check of MacGregor Park in Third Ward about 11 p.m. Friday night, when he came across two men striking a bronze community monument of Dr. King.

According to the park ranger, the men were repeatedly striking the 8-foot-tall, $120,000 statue with a metal object, damaging the back side of the recently-erected statue.

The two men are described only as "black males" in the police report, and apparently fled as the park ranger approached. Police say the two vandals were teenagers, but no arrests have been made in the incident.

The statue of a robe-clad Dr. King was unveiled in May by the Black Heritage Society, and was placed alongside an oak tree planted in King's honor at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and MLK Blvd.

Community leaders are now expressing their frustrations over the incident, calling the vandalism "disrespectful" and "disheartening."

"More than anything else, it's just disrespectful," Ovide Duncantell, director of the Black Heritage Society, told the Chron.

Terence Fontaine, executive vice president of government and public affairs for Metro, told reporters that while the damage is disheartening, it's also luckily repairable.

"This is a community statue, a community monument," Fontaine told the Chron. "Every single person in our community should be protecting it from vandalism."

Metro donated $750,000 to the ten-year project for the monument and upkeep of Memorial Plaza, where the statue sits.

The statue took center stage in Houston after the announcement in Missouri that a grand jury had declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by Wilson in early August.

The controversial decision not to indict Wilson, announced last Monday, spurred a number of protests and riots nationwide. Houston demonstrators convened at MacGregor Park the day after the announcement, and the now-damaged statue can be seen on protest footage standing over protest leaders, many of whom gave speeches and quoted Dr. King to the crowd.

As of Monday, crews were working to repair the statue. No estimate has been given for the cost of the damage.

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