TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Artwork at Perry Harvey Sr. Park that highlights the City of Tampa’s African American history was vandalized this week.
Police believe the vandal committed the act early Tuesday morning, using a hard object to break glass on the art pieces.
“I see anger in this damage,” said Fred Hearns, a Curator of Black History.
Why would someone do this? It’s a question Hearns asks to whoever is behind the vandalism at the historical park.
“I believe it was intentional and an attack upon this history is so uncalled for,” he said.
Hearns grew up going to Central Avenue, or “The Scrub,” as many people called the area. It was one of the only places in the city that Hearns says wasn’t segregated.
The Scrub became a place where black people went for entertainment and where many African Americans became business owners.
It’s Tampa history that lives in the minds of those who experienced it, and that is shown through moving artwork now damaged at Perry Harvey Sr. Park.
“Central Avenue was like coming to Heaven for black people because we were treated with dignity and respect, and that meant to world to us,” Hearns said.
Former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn helped bring the historical park to life back in 2016 and wanted to see the vandalism with his own eyes.
“This was a living, breathing history lesson for our community, for the good times and the bad times, and for the African American experience,” Buckhorn said. “To see now the damage that has been done by somebody really makes me mad.”
Leaders at the NAACP of Hillsborough County say the vandalism is disrespectful.
“No matter what your intentions are, you will never be able to erase my history,” said Yvette Lewis, President of the NAACP of Hillsborough County.
Tampa City Officials told 8 On Your Side an assessment is underway to determine how much repairs to the artwork could cost.
Police are investigating the crime to determine who is responsible. Anyone with information is asked to contact Tampa Police.