Several murals in Perry Harvey Park, which depict the history of the Black community and Tampa’s Central Avenue, were vandalized on Monday night, according to the Tampa Police Department. The artworks, partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, were damaged along with a nearby city kiosk. Surveillance footage is being reviewed, and detectives are searching for a suspect believed to be responsible for the vandalism. This incident marks the third time the park’s artworks have been targeted.
While Major Eric Defelice of the Tampa Police Department stated that there doesn’t appear to be a specific motive behind the vandalism, local residents, including historian Fred Hearns, believe it was intentional and possibly a hate crime. Hearns expressed the importance of the area, as it was once home to nearly half of Tampa’s Black population a century ago.
Clearance Jones, a resident near the park, described the vandalism as “heartbreaking” and expressed disappointment over the destruction of the artworks that represent the city’s history. Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw condemned the act, calling it an insult to the community and all those involved in creating the artwork.
The Tampa Police Department is urging anyone with information about the incident to come forward and assist in their investigation. They can be reached at 813-231-6130 or through Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 800-873-TIPS.