Update (Aug. 18): Artist Pablo Machioli repaired the "Madre Luz" statue Thursday night and put it up again in the Wyman Park Dell.
Someone shoved an anti-hate statue known as the "Madre Luz" from its perch in the Wyman Park Dell on Thursday and then escaped in a car, Baltimore police said.
The incident occurred just two days after four Confederate monuments were ordered removed in the middle of the night by Mayor Catherine Pugh.
One of those monuments featured Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The Madre Luz had been placed in front of the Lee Jackson monument in 2015 as a silent protest to the white supremacy the artist said it represented.
After the removal of the Lee Jackson monument, activists had put the Madre Luz figure on top of the empty pedestal where the Lee Jackson monument stood. But then someone knocked it over. Police had little more information about the suspect other then that he was male and wearing a blue shirt and khaki shorts.
Mayor Pugh said she took the unusual step of having the monuments removed to avoid violent disturbances between supporters and opponents of the statues, such as what occurred last week in Charlottesville, Va. A rally there turned deadly after white supremacist groups angry over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee attacked counter protesters, killing one woman and seriously injuring more than a dozen others.
David Markland, 36, had come to the park earlier in the day to show his daughters the Madre Luz. He took a picture and posted it to Instagram with the caption "Victorious." He returned by himself later and found the statue toppled over on the ground, partly crushed and with crumbled up bits of papier mache strewn around the marble of the now vacant pedestal.
"It means we have a lot of work to do," he said. "My personal opinion is that the sculpture should be permanently put up on this very pedestal in bronze."
News crews arrived before Pablo Machioli, the artist who created the sculpture in 2015 as a collaboration with activist Owen Silverman Andrews, showed up. He was accompanied by Silverman Andrews and assistant Kevin Stewart. They were disheartened but not surprised. They surveyed the wreckage and sat on a park bench to take it all in.
"Now we are in a process of change," said Machioli, who added that he always knew there was a possibility that his statue could be vandalized or toppled. What's more important is to keep the conversation going about the significance of statues, he said.
Those conversations appeared to be taking place. Parents brought children to see the spot where the statue and monuments once stood. Bystanders came as witnesses, or to pay their respects, to the toppled statue. Others came simply to observe the empty pedestal and mark a historic moment.
"I'm glad to see it's gone," Mandy Morrison said of the Lee-Jackson statue.
Morrison is originally from New York and said she was "pretty shocked" to see the monument when she moved to Station North a year ago.
"I hadn't realized how much of this stuff was still around," she said.
Passing motorists honked their horns as as they drove by, some cheering, others jeering.
Machioli and Silverman Andrews noted with irony that when they originally placed the statue in a public space, Silverman Andrews was fined by police. Now that their statue was toppled, the police were leaving them alone.
A more pressing concern was what would happen to the Madre Luz. Someone asked Pablo Machioli: Can it be fixed?
"Of course," he said. "Everything is fixable."
Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this report.