Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington DC
Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington DCiStock:

A Long Beach, California statue of Martin Luther King Jr. was defaced with a swastika and other graffiti described as “horrific” in nature, according to police who said they are treating the incident as a hate crime.

The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) was contacted about the statue in Martin Luther King Jr. Park being vandalized with “hate/bias-motivated graffiti” on Friday, reported CNN.

Investigators found that the graffiti was covering the front of the statue, police said in a statement.

An image of the vandalized statue of the civil rights leader was posted to Twitter. It showed that the perpetrator had spray painted a black swastika on the statue’s chest and SS bolts on one of its legs.

In a statement, the LBPD said that the graffiti had been removed by parks and recreation department workers. A hate crime investigation has been opened.

"The Long Beach Police Department takes all reports of hate or bias-motivated incidents seriously. We value the diversity of our Long Beach community and are actively investigating this incident to hold the individual responsible accountable for their actions," they stated.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia called the vandalism an “awful act” in a Twitter statement.

“Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community,” he said. “This hate and desecration has no place in our city.

Police have not made any arrests so far, reported NPR.

On Saturday, community members held a peace rally at the park in solidarity to protest the incident.