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Chris Meyers | The Journal Gazette
Two benches on the MLK Jr. bridge were defaced with writing.

MLK Jr. bridge defaced

2nd occurrence has racial theme

For the second time in as many weeks and just a few days after the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge in Fort Wayne has been vandalized.

This time, the vandalism came in the form of racist writings on two benches.

The tirades, which were found Sunday and appeared to be written in black marker on the white slats of the benches, were directed at interracial relationships.

Frank Suarez, a spokesman for the city, said it’s upsetting to see someone deface an asset to the city such as the bridge.

“Fort Wayne residents embrace and take pride in our landmarks,” he said.

The writing specifically targets the relationships of black men with white women.

“White women do not need to mix … keep the white race pure,” begins the passage on one bench.

On the other affected bench the writings call for the death of interracial couples and again makes a claim to “keep the white race pure.”

One bench calls for people to remember Joseph Paul Franklin, a killer who spouted white supremacist views and was recently executed for the deaths of more than 20 people.

In statements to national media before his execution, he said his objective was to start a race war.

Targeting interracial couples was one focus, if not the main focus, of his killing spree during the late 1970s.

One of his intended victims was civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, who survived being shot by Franklin in Fort Wayne in 1980 outside Jordan’s hotel.

The writings on the benches found Sunday are the second time in two weeks vandalism has occurred on the bridge.

In the previous act in June, a smiley face was found painted on one of the plaques with King’s face on it at the end of the bridge, according to police and images posted to local media websites.

It was cleaned the same day.

Suarez urged anyone who sees vandalism in progress to call 911, but if it isn’t found until after the fact, residents can call 311 to report the vandalism so it can be repaired or cleaned.

cmeyers@jg.net

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