The Ithaca Police chief said on Saturday that officers are investigating “despicable” racist phrases painted on cement at the Ithaca Skate Park following reports of the graffiti.
The red paint at several different locations at the park includes the phrases “Death 2 all apes” and “Fuck ape ass niggas.”
Police responded about 10:32 a.m. to the skate park at the corner of South Meadow and Wood streets but have not shared suspect information or a time that the crime may have occurred. The paint remained at the park on Saturday afternoon about 3 p.m.
“We take this despicable act very seriously,” Pete Tyler, the police chief, said in a statement, adding that the “hate speech does not represent” Ithaca or the Ithaca Police Department.
“This of course is all made worse by the fact that that it was done at a skate park, a place that children play and grow and flourish,” Tyler said.
Adam Monzella, one of three people skating at the park on Saturday afternoon, said the graffiti is not indicative of the skate park or the people who skate there. He said the park, at 401 Wood St., is a place where people of all ages are supportive of each other.
Monzella said another skater pointed out some of the graffiti to him “a couple of days ago” but said he did not recall seeing some of the other phrases until Saturday.
“Obviously, a society where this was unacceptable would be ideal,” he said, “where people would be so upset that they would band together.”
“I have a feeling that the people who did [this] aren’t people who really use the skate park,” Monzella said, “The people who skate here really love it and they’re such a good community. I just don’t think people would purposely try to trash the place.”
Ithaca College Prof. Cynthia Henderson, took photographs of the graffiti and shared them in a public Facebook post that was quickly shared by other Ithacans. Henderson said she had reported the graffiti to Ithaca Police about noon on Saturday.
“Dearest Ithaca, your racism is showing,” Henderson said in the post, adding that she used to bring her son to the skate park.
The Ithaca Skate Park, in a Facebook post, said the vandalism “is unacceptable” and encouraged anyone with information to speak up.
Members of the Ithaca community, along with Mayor Svante Myrick, painted over the graffiti at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Seph Murtagh, an organizer of the clean-up, described removing the graffiti as a “community effort.”
Chief Tyler asked for the public to help in identifying the person or people responsible by contacting the department dispatch line at 607-272-3245, its administration line at 607-272-9973 or its tip line at 607-330-0000.