Jackie Robinson statue stolen from Kansas Park Authorities offer up

Jackie Robinson statue stolen from Kansas Park; Authorities offer up to $7,500 reward for tips – ABC News

The city estimates damage at up to $75,000

January 27, 2024, 11:01 a.m. ET

• 3 min reading

Authorities are asking the public for help in finding the suspects who stole a statue of baseball legend Jackie Robinson from a public park in Wichita, Kansas.

Surveillance video captured the suspects entering the Jackie Robinson Pavilion in McAdams Park around midnight Thursday, removing the statue and putting it in a pickup truck.

The suspects cut off the statue's ankles, leaving only Robinson's feet. The city estimates damage at about $75,000.

“I am frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to remove the statue of Jackie Robinson from a park where children and families and our community come together to learn the story of Jackie Robinson, an American icon “Playing the game is baseball,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said during a news conference Friday. “This should upset us all. What concerns me even more is that the theft occurred just before the beginning of February, the start of Black History Month.”

The statue was built by artist John Parsons and donated to the community by League 42, a nonprofit organization named after Robinson's number with the Brooklyn Dodgers and dedicated to bringing baseball to Wichita's youth.

League 42 paid about $50,000 for the sculpture, which was installed in 2021, according to the Associated Press.

“Something really terrible happened overnight. The Jackie Robinson statue at our McAdams Park facility for League 42 was stolen,” the nonprofit wrote in a Facebook post. “This is a slap in the face to our organization.”

Councilman Brandon Johnson, a member of the Wichita City Council, said during the press conference that he had spoken to many families who were hurt and disappointed by the theft of the statue.

“It was one of the few times in my life when I was speechless. This horrible, despicable act really gave me pause,” Johnson said. “So again, like the boss and the [district attorney] said if you have this statue, bring it here today, now.

The Wichita Metro Crime Commission said during the press conference that it is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to arrests and a separate reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the statue being located. suspends. Tips can be submitted anonymously.

“Once the statue is returned, we also want the individuals who robbed our community of a treasure to be held accountable for their actions, and I assure you they will be,” Sullivan said. “The Wichita Police Department’s resources have been mobilized.”

Robinson is known for being the first baseball player to break the color barrier in the modern era of Major League Baseball. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and for the minor league Montreal Royals before being signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

The signing marked the end of segregated baseball and led to other black players joining the major leagues. During his time with the Dodgers, Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, named National League MVP in 1949, was a six-time All Star and won the World Series in 1955.