Whoever lynched Jackie Robinson’s statue in Wichita is not just any old racist | Opinion

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Whoever lynched Jackie Robinson’s statue in Wichita will hopefully have their macabre and literally monumental handiwork recognized soon, with jail time.

Eff for hateful effort, whoever you are. Because not just any old racist has the energy, commitment or feel for slavery-era symbolism to saw through a more than 300-pound bronze likeness, leaving only Robinson’s feet behind in McAdams Park.

It takes a special criminal to steal something that meant so much to a bunch of kids who have as little as those who play in the Wichita little league dedicated to Robinson’s memory do.

And to then dismember and burn the likeness of the first man to cross baseball’s color line and leave its charred remains in another public park Tuesday morning, so as to send a very public signal?

Well now that took a level of loathing you don’t see every day, even after all of the fond encouragement that those with racial animus have gotten in recent years.

If you, too, imagined that even bigots surely had some respect for Robinson, who was not only an exceptional player but a standout human, too, well, silly us. I guess the thrill of mistreating an icon isn’t dimmed just because he’s been dead since 1972.

It must bother those responsible that what Robinson accomplished, at great personal cost, can never be destroyed, or diminished in any way. Robinson was the first Black man to play major league baseball, for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1947.

And eight decades later, this still rankles? What little was left of the statue was found in a trash can at Garvey Park.

Some of the original news stories reporting the disappearance of the $75,000 statue from Wichita’s McAdams Park described the suspects as vandals, but that description minimizes what they did, which is take something precious and paid for by fundraising for League 42, which serves hundreds of low-income kids in its youth baseball program every year.

“Everything about our league is in honor” of Robinson, whose number, 42, was retired from all teams, “and there is no price tag you can put on the statue. It was our sacred place. It’s unfathomable and unbelievable to us that someone could do this.”

Unfathomable, yes, unbelievable, no.

Wichita police have asked anyone with information to contact detectives at 316-268-4407, the See Something Say Something hotline at 316-519-2282 or Crime Stoppers, where callers can remain anonymous, at 316-267-2111.

I’m going to make a donation to League 42, which is going to rebuild the statue, because the violence done to Robinson’s image and theft from the kids he still inspires cannot be the last word.

A GoFundMe to replace what was taken had raised $26,343 late Tuesday afternoon.