The clay took a Bay Area sculptor several months to shape with his hands a likeness of Breonna Taylor, which he finished with a dark brown satin glaze.
But less than two weeks after the statue commemorating Ms Taylor was installed in a busy plaza in downtown Oakland, Calif., Its creator, Leo Carson, said he was holding the shattered pieces of the vandalized ceramic bust in those same hands.
The sculpture was smashed in several places late last week, sparking widespread condemnation in the community and a police investigation.
The vandalism has been seen as another indignity for those still grappling with the murder of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman and emergency room technician, by police officers in Louisville, Ky., During a drug raid sloppy in March. Ms Taylor’s death, along with the assassination of George Floyd at the end of May, fueled numerous protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
A plaque bearing Ms. Taylor’s name and the phrase “Say Her Name” was displayed on the front of the statue which was vandalized in Latham Square near Oakland Town Hall.
“I built it to support the Black Lives Matter movement,” Carson said in an interview Monday night, “but that also makes it a target of racist assault.”
A spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department said in an email Monday night that a police report had been filed on the matter and the vandalism was being investigated.
Mr Carson, 30, who is white, said he spent around $ 600 to make the sculpture, which he placed in the plaza on December 12. “Pull that down,” the person wrote, “it’s a source of riots.”
Mr Carson, who visited the Home Depot and a ceramic workshop while the sculpture was being made, said he had prepared for the possibility of the installation being damaged.
“It was always on my mind,” he says. “I just felt like I had to do it anyway. It didn’t matter.
Mayor Libby Schaff of Oakland denounced the vandalism in a Twitter post on Monday.
“This is a vicious attack on the light + the justice sought in the name of Breonna Taylor,” Ms. Schaff wrote. “We will continue to move forward; Oakland will not tolerate acts of hate. “
Jonathan Greenblatt, general manager of the Anti-Defamation League, also condemned the damage to the sculpture.
“This act of vandalism does not respect Breonna’s memory, what she represents and the work of this artist,” Greenblatt said on Twitter Monday.
Mr Carson said the outpouring of support from the community has been encouraging and he has raised around $ 8,000 on a GoFundMe page to build a new bronze sculpture. He said he planned to donate the remaining funds to Ms Taylor’s family.
The three officers involved in Ms Taylor’s death avoided homicide charges in September, sparking a new round of protests across the country. A Louisville grand jury indicted an officer, who was fired, with three counts of gratuitous endangerment.
Mr Carson said someone on Instagram told him about the vandalism over the weekend.
“In that sense, it’s not surprising,” he said, “but it doesn’t reflect Oakland.”
The sculptor said he quickly went to check the sculpture so that he could recover the broken pieces, which he said would be repaired and eventually used in the mold of the bronze sculpture.
“It gives him a sense of integrity again,” he says.