Hate-Filled Vandals Tear Down UES Black Lives Matter Memorial Three Nights in a Row

Signs and photos torn down from BLM Memorial in Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site
Signs and photos torn down from BLM Memorial in Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site

MANHATTAN – For 469 days, a memorial that pays tribute to victims of police violence has stood at the East 86th Street entrance to Carl Schurz Park— but the display, which includes messages, photos and details on the Black lives lost and remembered, has repeatedly become victim to hate from neighbors, who have repeatedly vandalized the memorial— even wiping feces on it. Now, the most recent despicable acts are the destruction of the memorial, three nights in a row.

“It’s hatred,” memorial organizer Saundrea Coleman told Upper East Site in an interview, “they’ve been putting feces on it, on the posters, it’s just horrible.”

Vandals smeared feces on the memorial honoring lives lost to police violence/UES for Black Lives Matter
Vandals smeared feces on the memorial honoring lives lost to police violence/UES for Black Lives Matter

Volunteers with UES for Black Lives Matter spent a half hour just after sundown Wednesday repairing the memorial— taping up photos of Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was shot to death by police in Kentucky, Eric Garner, killed by a police chokehold on Staten Island and signs with simple but important messages like ‘Say Their Names’ and ‘Staying silent about racist neighbors is a problem.’ 

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Wednesday marked the third day in a row the memorial was targeted— first on Sunday night intones watch Monday, part of the memorial was damaged, with signs and photos torn down. On Monday night into Tuesday, activists say they vandals finished the job before the display could be repaired. 

 Signs and photos torn down from BLM Memorial in Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site
Signs and photos torn down from BLM Memorial in Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site

“I’m a black woman so it’s very, it’s painful,” Coleman says, “to know that it’s a public park and people don’t want the fight there, or the education there, or the vigil there.”

On Tuesday night, volunteers say they repaired the memorial only to find it once again destroyed on Wednesday morning.

Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site
Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site

Organizers say this escalation comes on the heels of the Christmas tree being lit in Carl Schurz Park— the Black Lives Matter memorial sits to the right and left of the tree and for hate-filled racists who are unfamiliar with how to frame photos, the memorial could appear in the background. 

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UES for Black Lives Matter has hosted vigils at the memorial in the park— first on a daily basis before switching on weekends only— since the Summer of 2020. 

Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site
Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site

It’s one of the longest running demonstrations since social justice protests swept the city following the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a police officer in Minnesota. 

In that time, the memorial has been a beacon of hope and pride for some neighbors on the Upper East Side— but others say, it’s time for the display to go.

Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site
Volunteers repair the Black Lives Matter memorial at Carl Schurz Park/Upper East Site

“I’m generally a supporter of efforts to reform the police,” one neighbor who wished to remain anonymous told Upper East Site.

“I’m also against leaving a bunch of disorganized crap in a park for over a year… maybe we should just have our nice park back.” 

The BLM memorial remained in tact as of Thursday morning/Upper East Site
The BLM memorial remained in tact as of Thursday morning/Upper East Site

At this point, organizers have not filed a report with the NYPD, though they tell Upper East Site that is the next step for them— as police surveillance cameras that line East End Avenue near Carl Schurz Park could help identify the hate-filled vandal. 

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“I wish an honest dialogue were possible,” that same anonymous neighbor told us, “but the specter of being called racist because I don’t like garbage in our park looms large.”

The BLM memorial remained in tact as of Thursday morning/Upper East Site
The BLM memorial remained in tact as of Thursday morning/Upper East Site

It’s worth noting, that the display appears orderly and well-kept by UES for Black Lives Matter— except at times when its been vandalized, smeared with feces or torn down. 

“[The vandals] need to understand that this is not acceptable,” Coleman told Upper East Site.

“This is 2021, black people are still dying— unarmed people at that— by police.”

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  1. I am grateful for this article, I think it is important to note that many people who upkeep the vigil support defunding or abolishing the police and do not support NYPD assistance in vigil defense. The vigil is a place to remember Black lives lost to police violence, systemic racism and the many Black trans lives lost to violence each year – 50 so far this year and that number is greatly under reported. I hope park goers enjoying the tree pause to remember the families of the Black victims in the photographs on the vigil and take a moment to be grateful that can celebrate this year.

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