Jackie Robinson Statue Stolen and Burned, Sparking Outrage in Wichita

Wichita, Kansas – The burned remnants of a stolen bronze statue of Jackie Robinson have been discovered by fire crews in Garvey Park. The incident, which occurred last week, has ignited outrage across the city. According to police spokesperson Andrew Ford, the statue was found in pieces and deemed “not salvageable.”

The statue, erected in honor of Robinson, the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, had been mysteriously cut at the figure’s ankles. Little League nonprofit organization, League 42, had commissioned the $50,000 sculpture in 2021, and it was installed in McAdams Park. McAdams Park is a popular spot where approximately 600 children actively participate in the youth baseball league as well as educational programs.

Surveillance footage revealed two individuals transporting the stolen sculpture to an abandoned truck. The police spokesperson disclosed that over 100 interviews have been conducted, with assistance from arson investigators. Authorities are now conferring with the prosecutor’s office regularly.

Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan expressed his disappointment upon the discovery, stating that it was a “direct indication of the pressure” felt by the suspects due to the ongoing investigation. He assured the public that arrests would be made, emphasizing the importance of building a solid case against those involved. Sullivan firmly affirmed that “it is only a matter of time.”

The theft of the Robinson statue has saddened many, as Robinson’s legacy spans not just the world of sports but also the civil rights movement. Robinson began his career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for generations of Black American ballplayers.

Bob Lutz, the executive director of League 42, shared his optimism for a replacement statue to be erected in McAdams Park. Lutz, close friends with the deceased artist John Parsons, who created the original sculpture, revealed that a new statue would be identical to the old one. Lutz emphasized that the mold for the sculpture is still viable and estimated that a replacement could be unveiled within months.

As the discovery was made shortly before Black History Month, Council member Brandon Johnson described the statue as a “symbol of hope.” Local businesses and an online fundraiser have already begun contributing donations for the replacement sculpture. Johnson stated, “We’re no longer looking for a complete intact statue. We know we need to raise the money to replace it, and we will do so.”

While it is disheartening to witness the destruction of the statue, city officials and community leaders are determined to restore the symbol of Jackie Robinson’s greatness and resilience in the face of adversity to its rightful place in Garvey Park.