Stolen Jackie Robinson statue found dismantled, burned in Kansas park


Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A stolen statue of baseball legend Jackie Robinson was found Tuesday, burned and in pieces inside a trash can at a Kansas park, as police continue to search for the vandals who committed the "disgraceful" act.

The statue was stolen last week from McAdams Park in Wichita, where the thieves were caught on surveillance camera cutting off the statue at the ankles and throwing it into a pickup truck.

"Overnight, Jackie Robinson statue at McAdams Park was stolen," the Wichita Police Department wrote Thursday in a post on X. "Someone cut it just above Jackie's shoes and hauled it off in a truck. Our community is devastated."

On Tuesday morning, the Robinson statue was found at Garvey Park following reports of a trash can fire.

"It's really disheartening to see the remnants of the statue, the disgraceful way it's been disrespected," Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan told reporters Tuesday. "We will be arresting several people for what they've done to our community."

As police search for the suspects, they announced Monday they had recovered the truck that they believe was used to haul away the statue.

The statue, which "is not salvageable at this time," belonged to a Wichita youth-baseball league. It was commissioned in 2021 by the late John Parsons, according to League 42 executive director Bob Lutz, who said the organization still has the original mold.

"We know we are going to incorporate a brand new statue that looks exactly like the old one. We are already working on that. In a matter of months that will be erected at McAdams Park and we are looking forward to that day," Lutz said.

The statue is valued at $75,000. A GoFundMe page to replace it has raised just over $34,000 of its $100,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Any donations that exceed our goal will be used to fund our operational needs, including our four education programs," the GoFundMe page says.

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and ended racial segregation in baseball in the major leagues when he signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson went on to win Rookie of the Year later that year. He was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1949.

Robinson was also a six-time All-Star, won the World Series in 1955 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Wichita Council member Brandon Johnson called the discovery of the desecrated statue a "heartbreaking discovery" and vowed Tuesday to get Robinson's image rebuilt quickly.

"That symbol of hope will only be gone for a short time," he said.