Ceramic bust of Breonna Taylor in Oakland is smashed by vandals

Police in California are investigating the vandalism of a ceramic bust of Breonna Taylor, which its sculptor has called ‘an act of racism.’  

The bust, created by artist Leo Carson, was installed in Oakland’s Latham Square near City Hall on December 12 in tribute to Taylor, an EMT, who was fatally shot by police during a botched raid on her home in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13.  

The bust, made out of ceramic, had a plaque on its plinth reading, ‘Say her name: Breonna Taylor’ – one of the rallying cries of the Black Lives Matter movement.   

On December 26, the sculpture was discovered to have been vandalized.  

A ceramic bust of slain EMT Breonna Taylor was vandalized in Saturday, just two weeks after it was erected near Oakland's City Hall

A ceramic bust of slain EMT Breonna Taylor was vandalized in Saturday, just two weeks after it was erected near Oakland’s City Hall 

‘Looks like they hit it with a baseball bat along the back,’ Carson told CBS SF

Photos of the bust show a missing chunk from the crown of the head, with additional damage to the neck and shoulder area.   

Carson said that he believed the destruction was intentional.   

‘I don’t think there’s a single person in Oakland who doesn’t know who Breonna Taylor is, and I don’t think you attack a sculpture like that by accident,’ he told the news station, adding ‘And I think that it was an act of racism and an act of aggression and intimidation.’ 

Carson told KQED that he ‘made this sculpture to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and while I’m overcome with rage and sadness at their cowardly act, their vandalism will make her even more potent.’ 

The statue, created in tribute to Breonna Taylor (left), was installed on December 12

The statue is pictured prior to being vandalized

The statue, created in tribute to Breonna Taylor (left), was installed on December 12. The statue is pictured at right, prior to being vandalized 

Sculptor Leo Carson is pictured next to the ceramic bust he created. He called the vandalize 'an act of racism' and believes it was intentional

Sculptor Leo Carson is pictured next to the ceramic bust he created. He called the vandalize ‘an act of racism’ and believes it was intentional 

He told NBC News that ‘Art matters, and these vandals know it.’ 

‘That’s why they felt compelled to attack her, and it’s the same reason anti-racist protesters have been tearing down statues of Confederate generals,’ he noted. 

The Oakland Police issued a statement that they were ‘aware of the incident regarding the vandalism of a bust honoring Breonna Taylor’ and that the incident was under investigation.

Carson started a GoFundMe on Sunday, to replace the ceramic bust with one cast in bronze.   

Carson created a GoFundMe to raise funds to recast the bust in bronze, which has raised more than $14,400 since Sunday

Carson created a GoFundMe to raise funds to recast the bust in bronze, which has raised more than $14,400 since Sunday

‘After spending months creating this artwork it was incredible to see the community and neighbors taking photos and enjoying it,’ Carson wrote in the fundraiser’s description. 

‘Now I am devastated and enraged to see it in pieces. This was an act of racist aggression and we need to show them we will not stand for it.’

He wrote that the ‘best way to prevent further damage would be to rebuild her in bronze.’

Carson, who had worked in food service before the pandemic left him unemployed, said that he couldn’t afford to fund the bronze statue on his own and would also need to rebuild the base of the statue to support the new weight of the sculpture.

He noted that he would donate any of the leftover funds collected to Taylor’s family.

By Tuesday morning, the fundraiser had received more than $14,400 of a $5,000 goal.  

Carson told the news station that he hoped the move to recast Taylor’s bust ‘will inspire solidarity and that we can rebuild this you know even stronger than it was before.’ 

Trial attorney Joe Cotchett, of Burlingame, California, told CBS SF Sunday that his Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP law firm would pay for the restoration of the sculpture. 

‘I’s scandalous and outrageous that anybody would do such a thing,’ Cotchett said, calling Taylor ‘a wonderful human being … The whole situation is preposterous — first her death, and now this.’ 

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