Long Beach upgrades MLK Park cameras after they fail to capture swastika vandalism

When someone graffitied a swastika on Long Beach’s Martin Luther King Jr. statue last month, the city-owned security camera that could have recorded the vandalism was not working properly, a city official said this week.

As a result, detectives—so far—don’t have images of any potential suspects, according to the Long Beach Police Department, which is investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

Although there have been no arrests or suspects identified in the criminal investigation, city officials say they’ve already taken one step forward by fixing the security cameras in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, where the statue stands.

“There are several cameras at MLK Park and some were fully functioning at the time of the horrific incident, however, unfortunately, the one which covers the statue was not properly functioning, which has since been remedied with an upgraded system,” Danielle Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the city’s Technology and Innovation Department, said.

The Technology and Innovation Department declined to answer questions about exactly why the camera wasn’t working or for how long, but outdated or broken cameras were a broader problem throughout Long Beach in recent years, according to a memo from the Technology and Innovation Department.

In 2017, 30% of the city’s network of about 500 cameras were experiencing outages, the memo said. Since then, however, the city has upgraded and added to its network. Now, there are more than 1,350 cameras in the network, and only 7% are suffering outages, according to the memo.

“Regardless of the improvements in technology, outdoor camera equipment requires routine maintenance and repairs,” the memo said.

The Technology and Innovation Department says it has recently upgraded camera systems in Houghton Park, McBride Park, Orizaba Park and Veterans Park.

The repairs to MLK Park cameras are just temporary for now to meet the immediate security needs, but the department says it’s working on a permanent upgrade because the technology “has significantly improved since the MLK Park cameras were originally installed.”

The new camera system is expected to be in place by October, the Technology and Innovation Department said.

Meanwhile, police “are still encouraging any potential witnesses to come forward as our Department continues to investigate any available leads,” LBPD spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said.

Hate symbols graffitied on Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Central Long Beach

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.