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A new George Floyd statue was unveiled in Brooklyn last week to commemorate Juneteenth. A day before Derek Chauvin’s sentencing for Floyd’s murder, the statue was vandalized.

The NYPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime. 

Floyd’s brother, Terrence, unveiled the statue last Saturday on Juneteenth, a newly-declared federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It currently is located on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, before it moves to Union Square in Manhattan in July. 

The statue was vandalized by four individuals early Thursday morning, at 3:40 a.m. ET, the NYPD said

Vandals defaced the statue with black spray paint and used a stencil to write “PATRIOTFRONT.US” on the pedestal. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a “white nationalist hate group” that formed following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. The NYPD recognizes it as an organized extremist group, CBS News affiliate WLNY reports.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the vandalism a “despicable act of hate.”

Terrence Floyd looks at his brother’s statue during the unveiling of the George Floyd memorial, as New York City honored Juneteenth on June 19, 2021, in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.

John Lamparski 2021 / Getty Images

“Last night a far-right extremist group vandalized a statue of George Floyd in Brooklyn. A racist, loathsome, despicable act of hate,” de Blasio tweeted Thursday afternoon. “The City Cleanup Corps is repairing the statue right now and a hate crime investigation is underway. We will bring these cowards to justice.” 

New York Governor Cuomo said that he directed the state police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist the NYPD in the investigation. 

“This act of cowardice s not just an attack on the Black community, and it’s not just an attack on the basic human decency George Floyd and his family deserve — it’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and the values our state stands for,” he tweeted Thursday. night. “And to the group of neo-Nazis who did this, I want to be absolutely clear: get the hell out of our state.” 

WLNY reports that another new statue honoring Floyd was also defaced with graffiti in Newark this week, featuring the web address of the same white supremacist group. Police have not confirmed if the two incidents are related.

“The defacing of the statue of George Floyd has been a trend around the country,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “This horrible act is the very reason that this statue needs to remain and be upheld. As this is not just about George Floyd, it’s a deliberate effort to push back against and ultimately dismantle systems of hatred, racism, and white supremacy.”