The top half of sapling planted in remembrance of Michael Brown was snapped off and a memorial stone reading “In memory of Michael Brown Jr.” went missing Sunday in Ferguson, Missouri, less than 24 hours after the tree had been unveiled, according to local media.
Ferguson police are looking into the vandalism at January-Wabash Memorial Park, where a ceremony was held Saturday to dedicate the tree, donated by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
City of Ferguson officials told Al Jazeera in a statement that the tree was one of two that were broken at the trunk over the weekend. Another memorial stone had also been stolen from the park.
An investigation is ongoing, the officials said, but local television station News 4 reported that so far, police don’t have any leads on who the suspected vandals may be.
City officials said they planned to replace both trees on Monday and order new memorial stones later this week.
One member of the community told local television station News 4 that he could not comprehend why anyone would desecrate the memorial. “I can’t understand why someone would want to cut down the tree,” a local man told the station. “They want to start something back up again?”
The fatal shooting of Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, triggered protests in Ferguson while drawing national scrutiny to police use of deadly force, especially against black men.
Tensions were further inflamed after a grand jury decided in November not to indict Wilson in Brown’s death, leading to further protests, which were sometimes violent.
This is not the first time a memorial for Brown has been damaged. Back in December, a makeshift memorial at the site of the shooting was allegedly destroyed intentionally by a motorist.
Local residents were further angered by a police spokesman who referred to that memorial as a “pile of trash” when contacted for comment by The Washington Post about the initial damage to the candles, stuffed animals, flowers and other mementos left at the site.