PALMS (CBSLA.com) — Residents in a Palms neighborhood are upset after a vandal repeatedly destroyed a Buddha statue that brings the community together.
"It's not something you see in every neighborhood. So I think it has touched a lot of people," Amy Gallo said.
A few months ago, the median on National Boulevard and Jasmine Avenue was littered with trash until one day when a Buddha a statue mysteriously appeared.
Neighbor Steven Frankel said it's not clear where he came from, but at that point, everything changed.
"There was no more garbage left anywhere near it. The area seemed clean. And beyond that, people started leaving donations at the statue," he said.
Soon after, the statue was vandalized four times. The latest happened last week when Buddha was decapitated.
"People are starting to come out and walk around and start to feel safe once again in this neighborhood. And this was just a nice offering of that. With the vandalism, it just dampens the spirit of the neighborhood," said Gallo.
"Someone had drove by and rolled down their window and screamed the word - 'Islam and then Nation of Islam' - at the statue and then sped off," Frankel said.
A few hours later, he said what appeared to be the same man hit Buddha with a sledgehammer.
It had already been replaced once, and his head was reinforced with rebar.
Lee Wallach with the area's Motor Avenue Improvement Association said he worried the vandal was still out there.
"There is no link to Muslim extremism. This is actually a community that embraces all kinds of religions," Wallach explained.
The statue's current state hasn't stopped people from leaving flowers and offerings.
Neighbors plan on filing a police report. But until then, they are keeping an eye out for the vandal to replace the statue once again.
"There's just something about the statue that brings people in the area together," Frankel pointed out.
The community hopes to $5,000 to replace the statue and install security cameras. Click here if you would like to help out.
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