hate crime

NYC Art Gallery Calls for Hate Crime Investigation After Repeated Vandalism

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force said it was looking into the vandalism

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An art gallery in New York City displaying pieces by Black artists has been vandalized for the third day in a row.

The owner of the Black Wall Street Gallery in SoHo is calling for the NYPD to step up its response after someone marked the gallery's door with black writing of an unknown symbol and the words “etc real art.”

"We’re in the middle of a very important exhibition and we’d like to focus on saluting the ancestors who lost their lives in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. However, having to constantly deal with this level of ignorance is unbecoming," the gallery posted on its Facebook on Wednesday.

It is the third reported incident of vandalism at the location with the first one occurring Sunday, on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Owner Dr. Ricco Wright said he went to open the gallery on Monday morning and found white paint had been smeared across the gallery's name displayed on the front window.

"In this case, you have white paint on something that has the word 'black' and it's only on those words, it's not above or below nor is it on any other business around. That to me constitutes hate speech," Wright said.

The front window of the Black Wall Street Gallery.

The second incident of vandalism occurred Tuesday, according to the NYPD. Someone had used white paint to write "EDHRLL." It's unclear if the same perpetrator is responsible for all the incidents. The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force said it was looking into the first two vandalisms.

Wright is convinced the vandal was trying to say something about what's hanging on the walls inside the gallery: 21 pieces of art crafted by 21 Black artists. Each art piece offering a take on the massacre.

Visitors attending the gallery on Monday wondered if the owner was right.

"I think it's kind of par for the course. I think anytime you're doing something that's a little bit right, you gotta have the other side too, right? They're just gonna come and try to squash it," said Marques Woods.

Monday marked 100 years since a white mob descended on an affluent Black area in Oklahoma and killed nearly 300 Black people and torched or destroyed 35 blocks of businesses and homes.

In SoHo, on the anniversary, detectives from the NYPD were examining the crime scene and looking for evidence that would point to the person responsible. Among them where investigators from the Hate Crime Task Force.

Wright told NBC New York if he gets his way, he'd like to have a chat with whoever marked the front of his gallery.

"Come holler at me. I would love to have a dialogue with you, to understand why you did it, to understand why you thought it was appropriate on a day that we're celebrating our ancestors and then I want to share with that person my perspective," Wright said.

The "21 Piece Salute" exhibit will be displayed in the gallery through June 19.

A New York City art gallery is calling for an investigation into what they consider a hate crime for vandalizing the front of their SoHo space. NBC New York's Erica Byfield reports.
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