Man arrested for allegedly vandalizing George Floyd statue

Michael Beals has been charged with criminal mischief for defacing the bronze-finished bust of Floyd on Oct. 3 in Union Square Park.

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An arrest has been made in connection with the vandalism of a statue of George Floyd in New York City. 

Michael Beals, 37, has been charged with criminal mischief in the vandalism incident, which took place on Oct. 3 in the south plaza of Union Square Park, according to NBC New York. 

Michael Beals, 37, has been charged with criminal mischief in the vandalism of a statue of George Floyd, which took place on Oct. 3 in Union Square Park, New York City. (Photo: Screenshot/New York City Police Dept.)

In New York, criminal mischief can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. It is unclear if Beals has been charged with a felony. Sentences for the crime can vary from up to or more than a year in prison. 

The statue was moved to Union Square Park earlier this summer just over a month after it was unveiled on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn at a Juneteenth celebration. It was also defaced in that borough five days after being installed, marred with black paint and the alleged logo of a white supremacist group. Local residents and members of the Floyd family cleaned the statue, and it was relocated.

The more-recent vandalism of the statue has been condemned by the state’s leaders, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who declared it an “act of cowardice.” She directed the state’s Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation. 

As previously reported, a perpetrator was seen mixing blue paint behind the sculpture before throwing it on the bust of the slain man and riding off on a skateboard.

The Union Square display also features statues of the late civil rights pioneer and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, as well as Breonna Taylor, the Louisville, Kentucky, woman killed by police on March 13, 2020. Neither of those statues has been vandalized. 

The statues are 12 feet tall and are made from precision-cut Okoume plywood and finished with bronze. They were commissioned by Confront Art, an organization that pushes for social change.

“SEEINJUSTICE” is the name of the installation on display in Union Square, which was intended “to raise awareness of racism and actions for correction,” NBC New York reports.

“Art creates an environment for civil discourse,” Chris Carnabuci, the artist who created the three busts, told the local news outlet, “We can talk about our differences and maybe even come to some understanding of each other’s perspectives.” 

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