The memorial plaque tells the story of lynching in America on one side, while sharing the story of Levi Harrington on the other, the news station reports.
Harrington, a Black man, was lynched in 1882. The Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit working to end racial inequality, works with communities to memorialize victims of racial violence and help build constructive conversations around race and justice for its Community Remembrance Project.
“This is a sacred space. We do not take its destruction lightly. It is part of our continuing struggle to acknowledge our history and advocate for a better future,” said Rod Chapel, president of the Missouri NAACP. “We do not deface churches or graveyards or other holy places.”
According to a press release from the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri, Harrington, then only 23, was murdered by an angry White mob that believed Harrington was responsible for the killing of a police officer earlier that day.
The mob of at least 300 dragged Harrington from police custody, tied a rope around his neck and threw him off the Bluff Street Bridge, before firing multiple bullets at him. No one was ever charged with Harrington’s murder.
The marker memorializing his horrific murder was put up in 2018. It had been the target of vandalism before, having been defaced with graffiti in 2019, according to The New York Times.
The Community Remembrance Project of Missouri pointed out the shock that the vandalism of the memorial brought, especially given the current national discourse surrounding police brutality and racism.
“In the context of protests throughout the country and locally in Kansas City to decry the killing of George Floyd and demand reform of police practices, it is shocking to see a monument dedicated to acknowledging the horrific lynching endured by another unarmed African-American man in Kansas City brutalized,” the press release noted. “To intentionally cut down the marker and throw it down the hill represents a rejection of historic and current truths.”