Someone recently stole a piece of history from Long Beach’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

About two weeks ago, a passerby noticed a large bronze plaque was missing from the base of the park’s statue of King, according to Isabel Arvea, the chief of staff for Councilman Dee Andrews, who has a field office nearby.

“We do have a little bit of a homeless problem at that park,” Arvea said. “We think it may have been ripped off and scrapped.”

The bottom plaque of name recantations was stolen from the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the park in Long Beach Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.
The space where a plaque of donor names used to be on the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Long Beach’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

The plaque was mounted to the front of the statue’s base at the park’s western edge. It included a list of the people who sponsored the monument’s construction.

Police said the plaque was worth at least $950, meaning prosecutors could charge whoever stole it with grand theft, a felony.

After the theft was reported on March 13, police went to the scene to collect evidence, department spokeswoman Jennifer De Prez said. As of now, they’re still investigating and haven’t arrested anyone.

The statue has stood in the park for at least a decade after locals raised money to erect it. And news of the theft has spread through the neighborhood.

“We know the entire community that lives around the park is very upset about it,” Arvea said.

She said it’s not clear yet how the plaque will be replaced, but for now, Andrews’ staff is trying to find a close-up photo or some kind of record of what it said to make sure the list of sponsors is preserved.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.