Jackie Robinson Statue Stolen From Kansas Park Found Broken, Burned in Park Trash Can | lovebscott.com

Jackie Robinson Statue Stolen From Kansas Park Found Broken, Burned in Park Trash Can

The Jackie Robinson statue stolen from a youth baseball field in Wichita, Kansas, last week was found destroyed Tuesday morning.

via: The Athletic

Firefighters found burned pieces of a bronze statue of Jackie Robinson in a trash can Tuesday, five days after the statue was cut off its base and stolen from a Wichita, Kan., park.

The Wichita Fire Department discovered the pieces after receiving a call Tuesday morning about a trash can fire at a different park about 7 miles from where the statue was stolen, Wichita Police Department senior public information officer Andrew Ford said.

The statue “probably won’t be salvageable,” Ford said. The fire department is investigating the arson aspect of the crime while the police department is continuing its investigation into the theft of the statue.

The Robinson statue was installed at a baseball complex inside Wichita’s McAdams Park in 2021 by the League 42 Foundation, a youth baseball league in Wichita named for Robinson’s number. Ford said the statue had not previously been vandalized until it was stolen shortly after midnight CT on Thursday.

Ford said investigators have a vehicle of interest that they have impounded. He could not disclose what the statue was cut with because that is still part of the investigation.

While he said “everything is on the table,” Ford said authorities are looking at it from the perspective that it was not a hate crime.

“What we believe is a possibility is that whoever did this did it to steal or use the statue to possibly melt it down or for scrap metal to get money,” he said. “That’s still part of our investigation, but nothing has led us to believe that this was anything discriminatory right now.”

Wichita city council member Brandon Johnson said during a news conference Tuesday that the development in the story was “a heartbreaking discovery.” He emphasized that the statue “will only be gone for a short time.”

“This tragic incident will not remove that hope that we all have for the area,” Johnson said.

A GoFundMe campaign to replace the statue started by the League 42 Foundation has received 297 donations and raised $20,410 of its $100,000 goal as of 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Bob Lutz, the founder and CEO of League 42, said that “a brand new statue that looks exactly like the old one” will be erected at McAdams Park “in a matter of months” while speaking with reporters during a news conference Tuesday.

John Parsons, the artist who created the sculpture, died in 2022, but “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.

Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and remains one of the icons of the sport. His No. 42 is retired by every MLB team.

His professional baseball career began about 200 miles from Wichita in Kansas City, Mo., where he played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

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