Amirrah Watson | Staff Writer
The Hampton University Office of the Chancellor and Provost on Feb. 7 released a “Call to Action” memorandum concerning the recent vandalism of the Rosa Parks statue in the campus’ newly constructed Legacy Park. This memorandum was soon followed by an email notification from the Hampton University Police Department seeking tips to identify anyone who might be responsible for the defacement of the statue.
According to the memorandum, the Parks statue was defaced on two occasions, first in late January and then again in early February. Photos of the damage show the bended frames of glasses crookedly resting on the nose of the statue. Students and administrators have expressed confusion and outrage at the vandalism, questioning the perpetrator’s motives for the act.
In addition to acting as a representative in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott and bus boycotts throughout the United States during the Civil Rights Movement, Parks also gave her time to Hampton University. In 1957, when unable to secure employment because of her participation in the Civil Rights Movement, Parks was offered employment at Hampton University where she would work as a hostess in the Holly Tree Inn. The Inn, where Parks worked for a year, continues to operate and house students today.
A senior business management major from Charlotte, North Carolina, who wishes to remain anonymous said they heard about the vandalism of the statue through both pictures posted on Twitter and the campus-wide memorandum.
This student finds this act of vandalism “kind of strange” and “messed up that someone would deface [Parks].
According to the Hampton University Police Department, the perpetrator has not come forward, but the officers who patrol the grounds of Legacy Park are still investigating the situation. As a general security measure for the project, surveillance cameras were installed throughout the park. HUPD does not suspect a specific motive for the defacement but states that the motive “lies in the head of the person who caused the damage.” Moreover, officers suggest that the perpetrator may have defaced the statue as an act of “peer pressure.”
If the culprit is apprehended, possible consequences for the act include both administrative and criminal sanctions if the violator is a student at the university. In the meantime, the HUPD and campus administrators are accepting any information about the person or persons responsible for the vandalism. Chief David Glover of the HUPD states that “[we] are all outraged” and wants students to understand the violation is not a petty crime and will not be handled lightly — the act was a direct insult to African-American history and leadership.
“If you have any information regarding the tampering or desecration of the Rosa Parks sculptured figure or any others, please contact the Hampton University Police Department by calling 757-727-5300,” Glover said. “You may also submit tips anonymously to the police via the ‘LiveSafe’ mobile application.”