Community helps increase reward in Rosa Parks vandalism probe - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Community helps increase reward in Rosa Parks vandalism probe

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(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

It's a crime that continues to generate anger and disbelief in Montgomery and beyond- the destruction of the home of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks.

The case took center stage this Labor Day at an annual event called "Big Blue on the Water" at Gateway Park in Montgomery.

Many in the crowd donated to Central Alabama Crimestoppers help catch the vandals who gutted Parks' apartment and a string of other units in the Cleveland Court Housing Community looking for copper. Representative Thad McClammy called it a "cowardly act."

"There was no question that it was her apartment. The sign was up there," he said. "Rosa Parks stood up for all of us 59 years ago and so this is just an opportunity for the community to say thank you. That was really the spark that started the fire of change in the political landscape of America."

The inside walls of Parks' old apartment were ripped out, countertops flipped and there's major damage among the mementos of Park's life. Photos, her sewing machine and furniture still remain but are surrounded by the destruction.

Through donations at the Labor Day celebration, the reward in the case doubled to more than $2000.

Crimestoppers is hoping that a bigger reward will be incentive for someone with information to come forward.

"It is of great significance. We definitely want to find the perpetrators who did this, who vandalized it. We know that people talk about what they do, they brag about it so we know that somebody somewhere knows something," said Susan Moss, Executive Director of Central Alabama Crimestoppers. "It just creates community awareness, what we do and how we are a community program and how everyone can do a little something to help."

The Housing Authority is still doing damage estimates on the units at the Cleveland Court complex which were on the verge of renovations at the time of the vandalism. The damage total could be anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million, officials said.

It was national news this week when hundreds of items that belonged to Rosa Parks were recently purchased for $4.5 million dollars with plans for them to be given to an institute or museum. Many of the items have been sitting unseen for years in warehouses in New York and Detroit.

The sale was made to a foundation run by Howard G. Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Twenty percent of the balance goes to Parks' relatives. The rest will go to the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in Detroit.

Here in Montgomery, the community is left wondering why her home, now a mini museum, was not shown the same respect.

Crimestoppers says some of the money raised on Labor Day will also go to the rewards for two murders that happened in the city of Montgomery over the weekend.

Anyone with information on the cases is asked to call 215-STOP.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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