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George Floyd Statue In Manhattan Vandalized, But Quickly Returned To Form By Art Group Volunteers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A statue in memory of George Floyd in Union Square was vandalized on Sunday morning.

Police say someone splashed it with paint, and it's not the first time the statue has been targeted, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

New Yorkers and tourists alike were marveling Sunday night at the larger-than-life statue of Floyd, which was restored to its golden shine in Union Square Park after it was defaced earlier in the day.

"We put it in two days ago and 48 hours later here we are with vandalism," said Lindsay Eshelman, co-founder of the group Confront Art.

WATCH: New Video Shows George Floyd Statue Vandalized In Union Square

Discouraged volunteers spent the day peeling off thick layers of gray-blue paint that was splashed on the sculpture only days after it went up in the park -- the place where thousands have marched in memory of Floyd and in protest of police brutality. Floyd, a Black man, died in May 2020 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about 10 minutes.

The 6-foot sculpture of his face was first vandalized days after it debuted in Flatbush, Brooklyn in June, shaking and angering a community that had already been through so much.

"Whoever did it, you should be ashamed of yourself. He already suffered enough," resident Yasmeen Beadle said.

READ MOREArt Installation Featuring Sculptures Of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, John Lewis Unveiled In Union Square Park

Police said the summer vandalism incident was the work of four people tied to a local supremacist group. So this is now twice that the statue -- and its supporters -- feel like they've been targeted, Layton reported.

"The crazy thing is we knew that this could happen. It just kind of shows that what we're doing is sparking conversation, it's sparking controversy. That is the mission of art, to evoke emotion. I don't align with this emotion. It's super frustrating, but it shows the disunification of America that we live in," Eshelman said.

"It's the memory, you know. The memory is being tainted and we want to shed light. We did this out of good intention for the community and it's really sad this is happening," Confront Art's Angie Onmars added. "It's really heartbreaking, really sad that people would deface and vandalize something we worked so hard on. I know it hurts the Floyd family as well to see the son that they lost, the brother that they lost is being vandalized again."

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The statue, along with statues of John Lewis and Breonna Taylor, are part of a temporary exhibit called "See Injustice" -- a call to recognize the mistreatment of Black men and women, with hopes of promoting peace and healing throughout the country.

Floyd's brother, Terrence, revved up the crowd at that dedication with a rallying cry.

"We're gonna stay woke and we're gonna do this in love, peace and unity and we're going to keep healing together," Terrence Floyd said in late September.

On Sunday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tweeted in part the trauma of George Floyd's tragic death should not be compounded by the trauma of seeing his memorial defaced, a sentiment echoed by those who worked so hard to get rid of the paint and heal the scars of injustice with the traveling exhibit.

Police said they do have surveillance video of a person seen mixing paint before it was thrown on to the statue, but they haven't located that person yet.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on October 3, 2021.

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