hate crime

NYC Art Gallery Commemorating Tulsa Massacre Vandalized With White Paint

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is looking into the vandalism

NBC Universal, Inc.

An art gallery in Manhattan displaying pieces for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre was vandalized overnight and the person responsible now has the attention of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.

The owner of the Black Wall Street Gallery in SoHo said it was not there when he locked up Sunday night, but by Monday morning 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," said gallery owner Dr. Ricco Wright.

The front window of the Black Wall Street Gallery.

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.

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