New York police have arrested a man in connection with the vandalism of a newly-unveiled statue of George Floyd earlier this month.
The New York City Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force announced on Monday that it had charged 37-year-old Micah Beals of Manhattan with second-degree criminal mischief.
Beals’ attorney, Rebecca Heinsen of Legal Aid Society, declined to comment on the arrest or charge.
Outlets including Newsweek and People report that Beals is an actor who goes by the stage name Micah Femia. He appeared in the 2013 movie Pop Star as well as one 2011 episode of NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation and a 2005 episode of CSI: NY, according to IMDb.
He was also arrested under his stage name in Washington, D.C., for violating curfew on Jan. 7, according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department.
Video of the Oct. 3 incident shows a man on a skateboard tossing grey paint on the face of the statue, which had recently arrived in Manhattan’s Union Square Park as part of a touring art installation called SEEINJUSTICE.
Confront Art, a community arts organization that helped organize the installation, thanked the NYPD for their work in a statement released on Instagram.
“We do not consider this just an act of vandalism, but an act of hate,” they wrote. “Although the defacing of the statue was a disappointing day, we’ve experienced 30 days of true community building, joy and positivity from New Yorkers and visitors alike, and no vandal can deter from that.”
Here’s what we know about the vandalism
The incident targeted a 10-foot-tall bronze statue of Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last May.
The bust was one of three statues unveiled in Union Square Park on Sept. 30 as part of the installation (the others depict Breonna Taylor and Rep. John Lewis).
Just days later, police released video footage of a person on a skateboard throwing gray paint on the statue’s face and base. They said the incident happened around 10:15 a.m. and asked members of the public to get in touch with any information.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called it “reprensible” and directed the Hate Crimes Task Force to help investigate.
On 10/3/21, at approx. 10:15 AM, in Union Square Park, a person on a skateboard threw gray paint on the face and base of a statue of George Floyd. Info? DM @NYPDTips or ☎️ 1-800-577-TIPS. @NYPDShea @NYPDDetectives @NYPDPBMS @NYPD13Pct @NYCParks @mayorsCAU pic.twitter.com/PxNQs1u6mw
— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) October 4, 2021
Gothamist from New York Public Radio reported that once police officers arrived on the scene to file a report, the art installation’s producer and several volunteers began scraping the paint away as onlookers watched.
Isaish Burke, a Virginia resident who drove to New York with his family to see the exhibit, told Gothamist that he feared once the statue was cleaned up, it would be vandalized again.
“I was pulling by and I saw the paint I instantly got emotional,” said Burke, who is Black. “It’s a representation of the country we live in. It’s racism, it’s hatred, ignorance all boiled into one.”
Gothamist notes that this same statue was vandalized in June while on display in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.