Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Denver’s City Park vandalized overnight

Parks and Rec. staff member discovered vandalized monument Wednesday morning
MLK STATUE VANDALISM FEB 21 2024_Courtesy of Dr. Vern Howard
Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 18:53:23-05

DENVER — The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Denver’s City Park was vandalized overnight, according to the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission.

The damage to the "I Have a Dream" monument was discovered by a concerned citizen Wednesday morning, who immediately notified the president of commission, Dr. Vern Howard.

Howard told our Denver news partner a bronze panel that depicted Black Americans who fought in U.S. wars was removed, along with two decorative emblems that depict an angel of love and a torch of freedom.

martin luther king mlk monument vandalized_feb 21 2024.jpg

"It was a coordinated effort," Howard told Denver7, explaining that the largest piece that was taken from the monument could not have been carried by a single person due to its weight.

Howard — who was the lead in the project — also told reporters during an impromptu news conference Wednesday afternoon he believed the vandalism was not coincidental.

"I don't believe it's any coincidence that it happened during the 40th anniversary of the Dr. King commission," Howard said, adding that the vandalism felt personal to him because it happened during Black History Month.

This isn't the first time the monument has been vandalized, Howard said, but "this is the first time they did it to this extent."

The monument, unveiled in 2001, was the vision of Wilma J. Webb, a former state representative and wife of Denver’s first Black mayor, Wellington Webb.

The City and County of Denver and Mayor Wellington Webb commissioned the statue. Ed Dwight, the first Black trained astronaut and a local artist, was responsible for its creation.

Howard estimates damages to the monument could be at least $75,000 as that was the value of one of the pieces stolen from the monument. The entire memorial is valued at $3 million.

“This will not deter us. We will continue to march. We will continue to seek justice. We will continue to seek love," Howard said. "We will continue to fight for the Voting Rights Act. We will continue to fight for everything that is needed to make sure that we are all able to live up to the creed of this country, that all men are created equal."

Denver police said it has opened an investigation in conjunction with DPD's Bias Motivated Crime Unit and asks anyone with information to contact Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.

Denver7's Micah Smith contributed to this report.

Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Denver’s City Park vandalized overnight