Earlier this week, the towering statue of Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmett Till that sits at the site of the former Lincoln Home orphanage for Black children was defaced.
In addition to white paint being thrown on the statue, three large white letter Ks were painted on a gateway that leads to the property in the 2700 block of North Grand Avenue.
Although the markings were quickly removed, the ill will they spawned may linger for some time.
Immediately, the act of vandalism was condemned by Pueblo’s Martin Luther King Holiday Commission and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which released this statement Thursday:
"We, the NAACP Pueblo branch, are disgusted, upset and angry about the defacing and vandalizing of the sacred statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Emmett Till on this day, the day of putting to rest Congressman John R. Lewis.
"Both he and Dr. King stood for non-violence, tolerance, and love.
"But, in this time, when the common good for all is being emphasized, some people will show their ignorance, their hatred and their ugliness.
"Pueblo is better than this, and whoever did this horrible act does not represent Pueblo. But it lets us know we have much work still to do.
"As a civil rights organization, we will continue through nonviolent resistance to obtain equity and equality for all people.
"We will not, cannot, allow the ugly head of racism to win. This action of disrespect should motivate everyone in Pueblo to stand for what is right and decent. Be angry enough to speak against this type of behavior and challenge each other to be better and do better than this."
The defacing of the statue comes as a controversy over the Christopher Columbus monument in the Mesa Junction continues.
To help broker a solution between monument supporters and those who want it removed, Mayor Nick Gradisar has proposed hiring a professional mediator.
Of the vandalism of the King/Till statue and gateway, Gradisar said, "I’m sorry to see it. Obviously, it’s uncalled for and I’m hoping that we can identify who it was that did this."
The incident is being investigated by police as a bias-motivated crime.
"We are very disturbed by the nature of this crime in our community" said Pueblo Police Officer Brandon Beauvais. "This is an active investigation and we’re following up on information as we receive it.
"If anyone has any more information to the potential suspect(s) in this crime, we urge them to share it with us at the police department."
Chieftain reporter Jon Pompia can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/jpompia. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow