Vandals defaced a statue of Jackie Robinson outside the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium, marking racial slurs and symbols on it, park and police officials said Wednesday.
A swastika, "anti-Semitic comments" and the N-word were written in black marker on the statue and its base sometime between the end of the Cyclones game Tuesday night and 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the New York City Police Department.
The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the matter as a possible bias incident. The Cyclones and police are reviewing security camera video, hoping it will lead them to a suspect or suspects, said Brooklyn Cyclones director of communications Billy Harner.
No arrests have been made.
The parks department has already managed to remove the majority of the graffiti, Harner said. The statue is a likeness of Robinson and teammate Pee Wee Reese.
"Almost every Saturday morning I stop by the statue on my bike, and am deeply moved each time," U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
"Defacing the Jackie Robinson statue is a dagger in the heart to everything America stands for, and I hope those who are responsible are caught, punished, and taught why what they did is so disgusting and offensive."
The stadium is just steps away from Coney Island's famous boardwalk. The team is the minor league club associated with Major League Baseball's New York Mets franchise.
Jackie Robinson was the first African-American baseball player to play with a modern-era Major League Baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
His jersey number, 42, was retired in 1997, though it is still worn by New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera.
The film "42," which was released in April, tells Robinson's story of breaking the color barrier in the sport.