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WWI memorial statue vandalism prompts NYC Mayor Adams to put up his own money as a reward

Reward offered for WWI statue vandals
Reward offered for WWI statue vandals 00:43

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams is offering $5,000 of his own money for information leading to the arrest of whoever vandalized a WWI statue Monday night. 

Police said the statue was desecrated by pro-Palestinian demonstrators as hundreds marched from Hunter College to the Met Gala. An American flag was also burned. 

The mayor said that CrimeStoppers has also offered a $10,000 reward.

Police put up wanted posters depicting the suspects near the statue Tuesday afternoon. The department posted more photos on social media Wednesday night. 

According to police, the memorial at the corner of 67th Street and Fifth Avenue was desecrated with spray-painted words like "Gaza" and phrases "Free Palestine" and "Let Gaza live." It happened roughly 10 blocks south of where protests converged near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The spray-painted messages were cleaned up by Tuesday afternoon.  

The NYPD is hunting for the person or people responsible for desecrating the memorial at the corner of 67th Street and Fifth Avenue on May 6, 2024. NYPD

Mayor Eric Adams: "We cannot remain silent" 

Mayor Eric Adams called the vandals "cowards," and said they are still at large. 

"I want to be extremely clear. In spite of the unpopular notion that people don't want to say it -- I want to say it -- I love America. I love America, and I'm proud to be a citizen of America. And the reason we are here is because of men and women like the statue behind us. And we cannot remain silent when our symbols of freedom are desecrated by individuals who clearly hate our country and hate our way of life," Adams said. "I am not going to remain silent and we should not remain silent, because our silence gives the belief that everything is OK, and it is not OK. Not only was this statue desecrated, but down the block another statue was desecrated."

Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and called the act "unacceptable," adding that type of behavior "will not be tolerated."

"We are going to treat this crime with the seriousness that it deserves," Adams said.

New York City has been an epicenter of protests at college campuses over the last few weeks. Hundreds of arrests have been made in the city and across the country as protesters in support of Palestinians continue to object to the Israel-Hamas war.

On Monday night, several hundred demonstrators marched with flares from Hunter College, trying to disrupt fashion's biggest night. Police said 27 people were taken into custody, mostly for disorderly conduct, and 21 were released with summonses.

NYPD "actively investigating this heinous crime"

Daughtry said the NYPD is going to find those responsible for the vandalism.

"I want to assure you that the NYPD, backed by our finest detectives, is actively investigating this heinous crime. We will leave no stone unturned until the perpetrators are brought to justice. Vandalizing a memorial, a symbol of remembrance and honor, is not only an act of criminal mischief but also a disrespect to the sacrifices of those who served our country," Daughtry said. "The NYPD is known for its exceptional investigative abilities, and this case will be no exception. We are committed to upholding the law and ensuring that justice prevails. Let this serve as a warning to anyone who dares to deface our city's landmarks -- there will be consequences. We urge anyone with information to come forward and assist us in our efforts to bring those responsible to justice. Together, we can uphold the values of our city and ensure that such acts are never repeated."

CBS New York spoke with some people who say memorials like the one that was vandalized are, indeed, sacred.

"It breaks your heart. In this country you have the right to voice your opinion but not destroy history," one man said.

"I think it's absolutely disgusting. It's pure violence," another man said.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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