MINNEAPOLIS — The nation's first, permanent memorial honoring survivors of sexual violence was vandalized in Minneapolis overnight.
The Survivors Memorial, located on Boom Island Park, has damage to its granite panels, mosaics and donor recognition bricks. Sarah Super, who spearheaded creation of the memorial, said this is the first time the space has been damaged.
The memorial honors people's experiences using metaphors, including mosaics. Artist Lori Greene says it symbolizes broken pieces can be put together again.
"We’ve been working on this for over five years, so it wasn’t just the physical work, but all of the people that we talked to and were part it," said Greene. "I actually feel sick to my stomach."
In 2015, Super was raped at knifepoint by her ex-boyfriend, Alex Neal, after he broke into her house. Neal was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Ramsey County. Since then, Super has been a passionate advocate for supporting sexual violence survivors and changing how law enforcement responds to sexual assaults.
"I think conversation is the first step. We can't solve a problem unless we acknowledge that it exists," Super told KARE 11 back in 2015 while explaining why she was so open about her story.
In a statement, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board confirmed it's investigating the damage, which was discovered on May 16. Anyone with information should contact the Park Police Department through 612-230-6550.
"In the meantime, the MPRB will work with the memorial organizer and artist about repairs," the department said.
Super and Greene continue to stand with survivors, but after the damage, are left to wonder what would make someone do this.
"I can’t imagine it would be anything less than intentional since every panel was hit in some way," said Greene. "I really just feel heartbroken for the person who did this and the anger they feel."
WATCH: Break the silence: Supporting survivors of sexual violence
The memorial includes a seating area, three 12' mosaic panels and surrounding landscape.
According to the Survivors Memorial website, the space honors "the courage and strength of survivors, and it will bring awareness to the prevalence of sexual violence. It will let survivors know that our community believes them, supports them, and stands with them in solidarity."
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