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Buddha Sculptures Meant To Inspire Peace Vandalized in Bridgeport

 The peaceful buddha head sculptures in Palmisano Park were vandalized overnight in Bridgeport.   
Buddha Heads
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BRIDGEPORT — The Buddha head peace sculptures in Bridgeport's Palmisano Park were vandalized overnight, police said.

Around 10:30 a.m., officers responded to a call of damaged property in the 2800 block of South Halsted Street, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.

When officers arrived, they found 14 of the sculptures had been vandalized. Ten of the sculptures had been flipped on their sides, four were removed from their bases and two were missing. Some of the sculptures had been defaced with black marker, Sedevic said.

Mauricio Pena says police are investigating the incident:

The "Ten Thousand Ripples" public art project by Indira Johnson, which displays fiberglass Buddha head sculptures in locations throughout the city, were brought to the park last year. A total of 18 sculptures are located at Palmisano Park, 15 laid out in circle at the top of the park's hill, and three others in a triangle formation on the side of the hill.

"It's the first time something like this has happened and it's really sad," Johnson said after hearing the news earlier this morning from the Chicago Park District. "We have many of the sculptures around the city and some minor incidents but, they have been really well received by the community."

Despite the incident, Johnson believe the vandalism isn't reflective of the community's sentiments towards the art displays.

"For the most part people in the community have been protective of the sculptures," Johnson said. "Recently two of the sculptures had been removed for repairs after they had become loose from their base and people had emailed me wondering what happened, whether they were stolen,"  Johnson said.

"It's gratifying to know they have adopted them and are keeping watch."

In an email statement, Mark Rodriguez, executive director of Changing Worlds, a lead partner of the "Ten Thousand Ripples" project, said the organization "was saddened by the isolated actions of a few individuals who do not represent the overwhelming positive response received by the larger community."

In the email Rodriguez said Changing Worlds would be working with the park district along with Johnson and Orlandi Statuary to get the sculptures reinstalled and reinforced.

"Overall four sculptures were removed from the bases and the remaining sculptures had been pushed over by several individuals," Rodriguez said. "Two of the sculptures had been removed by the lead artist last week get them reinforced," Rodriguez, who said.

"An isolated incident of a few won't deter us from our core goals and commitment to the project and the larger Bridgeport community."

Casey Cora discussed the sculptures when they were installed:

Palmisano Park Advisory Council President Maureen Sullivan said there have been other instances of vandalism, with people drawing on the Buddha heads or removing them from their posts.

"It's upsetting," Sullivan said. "It's meant to inspire peace and people can't seem to leave them alone. We need to do something and encourage the people who use the park to be more mindful. If they see something, they need to call the police."

"Any vandalism, even if it's writing on the sculptures, it's disrespectful," Sullivan said.

Alisa Sisic, 36, who has been living in Bridgeport, was disappointed to hear about the vandalism.

"It's a violation, not just against the artist, but also to the people who come to enjoy the public park," Sisic said.

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