Looks like some Californians aren’t big fans of former President Ronald Reagan, as a statue of the nation’s 40th President was found burned in a park after an apparent arson.
The charred statue, which sits in a sports park in Temecula, Calif., bearing the Gipper’s name, was discovered by a park worker around 7 a.m. on Friday, Riverside’s The Press-Enterprise reported. According to police, the life-size Reagan statue — featuring the former President wearing work clothes and holding a shovel in one hand and a cowboy hat in the other — was believed to be damaged in an apparent arson.
“It’s an insult to the president as well as to the community,” Perry Peters, founder of the nonprofit Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park, told The Press-Enterprise. The group, the paper reported, donated the statue to the city.
Sgt. Terry Jones of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said police currently do not have a motive or suspect in the case. Authorities did, however, find burned debris near the base of the statue. Additionally, inscribed granite tiles from a decorative wall located behind the statue had fallen to the ground, and both the landscaping and lighting were damaged.
“I hope they find who it is and get him straightened out,” Peters said.
He continued, saying the act proves young people aren’t learning to appreciate “the greats in our history,” according to The Press-Enterprise.
Since police ruled the vandalism as arson, the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department will take over the case.
Recreation Superintendent Julie Pelletier said city workers cleaned the monument, with repairs planned.
“We want to get it back to its original state,” she said.
The statue of the 40th President was dedicated in 2012 and funded by private donations. It serves as recognition of the volunteers who took an active role in building the Rancho California Sports Park in the early 1980s. The park was then renamed to honor the California conservative who “praised the volunteers’ efforts in a March 1983 speech to the U.S. Olympic Committee,” The Press-Enterprise reported.