UNITED STATES NEWS

Burned remnants of prized Jackie Robinson statue found after theft from public park in Kansas

Jan 30, 2024, 12:58 PM | Updated: 3:54 pm

Fire crews found the burned remnants Tuesday of a prized bronze statue of Jackie Robinson that was stolen last week from a public park in Kansas, authorities said.

The Wichita fire department received a call around 8:40 a.m. about a trash can on fire at Garvey Park in the southern part of the city and discovered what appeared to be pieces of the statue, according to police spokesperson Andrew Ford. At a news conference Tuesday, he described it as “not salvageable.”

The statue, which was cut at the figure’s ankles, went missing Thursday morning. It honors the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

“If it turns out it was racially motivated, then obviously that is a deeper societal issue and it certainly would make this a much more concerning theft,” said Bob Lutz, Executive Director of the Little League nonprofit that commissioned the sculpture. “We’ll wait and see what this turns out to be.”

League 42, which is named after Robinson’s Dodgers number, paid about $50,000 for the model, which was installed in 2021 in McAdams Park, where roughly 600 children play in the youth baseball league. It also offers educational programs.

The police spokesperson said that with assistance from arson investigators, they have conducted more than 100 interviews. Surveillance video shows two people hauling the sculpture away in the dark, to a truck that was later found abandoned.

“Yes, it’s really disheartening to see the remnants of the statue and the disgraceful way in which it has been disrespected,” Wichita police Chief Joe Sullivan said, describing the discovery of it as a “direct indication of the pressure” suspects felt from the ongoing investigation.

He said police are conferring with the prosecutor’s office on a regular basis.

“There will be arrests, but we’re going to make sure that when we do, we will have a solid case,” he said, adding that for anyone involved in the theft “it is only a matter of time.”

Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for generations of Black American ballplayers. He’s considered not only a sports legend but also a civil rights icon.

Lutz, the nonprofit director, said there will be a new statue installed that will look exactly like the old one, which was made by his friend, the artist John Parsons, before his death. He said the mold is still viable and anticipated that a replacement could be erected within a matter of months.

“I’m trying to keep it together,” he said, adding: “The statue that reappears at McAdams Park will be the work of John Parsons.” He stressed that “we are ready for some joy.”

The theft was discovered shortly before Black History Month. But Lutz said in an interview after the news conference that he was hopeful the motive wasn’t racial, but that the thieves just saw the bronze as monetarily valuable.

Council Member Brandon Johnson described the statue as a “symbol of hope” and said donations for the replacement are coming from local businesses and through an online fundraiser.

“This now lets us know that we need a new statue,” he said of the destroyed remains. “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.”

___

This story has been corrected to show that the nonprofit is named League 42, not League 32.

United States News

Work continues on the roof of Gaido's restaurant in preparation for opening for diners for the firs...

Associated Press

In beachy Galveston, locals buckle down without power after Beryl’s blow during peak tourist season

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Vacuums sucked the water out of the seaside inn run by Nick Gaido’s family in Galveston since 1911 as power was still spotty nearly one week after a resurgent Hurricane Beryl swept into Texas. Blue tarp covered much of the torn off roof. Gaido scheduled cleanup shifts for the hotel and […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Balloons are hoisted to the ceiling in the Forum ahead of the 2024 Republican National Conve...

Associated Press

When does a presumptive nominee become a nominee? Here’s how Donald Trump will make it official

WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday 12:01 AM Nearly 2,500 delegates are gathering in Milwaukee this week for a roll call vote to select a the Republican presidential nominee, formally ending the presidential primary. It will be a moment lacking in suspense: Former President Donald Trump has already been the presumptive nominee for months, having clinched a […]

7 hours ago

Members of the Coalition to March on the RNC speak during a news conference ahead of the 2024 Repub...

Associated Press

GOP convention protests are on despite shooting at Trump rally

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Activists gathering in Milwaukee for the start of the Republican National Convention say the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump won’t affect their long-standing plans to demonstrate outside the convention site this week. A diverse range of organizations and activists is expected outside the downtown Fiserv Forum. The largest expected demonstration […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Actor Clint Eastwood speaks to an empty chair while addressing delegates during the Republic...

Associated Press

Floor fights, boos and a too-long kiss. How the dramatic and the bizarre define convention history

WASHINGTON (AP) — In 1948, the Republican and Democratic parties did something unthinkable in today’s climate of ferocious political animosity: They not only held their national conventions in the same city, but shared some of the props. Both gathered in Philadelphia, largely because its Municipal Auditorium had already been fitted with the wiring needed for […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, ...

Associated Press

The RNC’s first day will still focus on the economy. Here’s what to know about Trump’s plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump goes into the Republican National Convention with bold promises about the U.S. economy, but he has sketched out notably few details about how his plans would actually work. The convention’s first day is still expected to focus on the economy even after Saturday’s shooting at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Wayne LaPierre arrives at court, Jan. 24, 2024, in New York. The second phase of the civil t...

Associated Press

Second phase of NRA civil trial over nonprofit’s spending set to open in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — The second phase of the civil trial against the National Rifle Association and its top executives is set to begin Monday in Manhattan, with New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking an independent monitor to oversee the powerful gun rights group. The Democrat also is seeking to ban Wayne LaPierre, the […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Burned remnants of prized Jackie Robinson statue found after theft from public park in Kansas