SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Police Department is investigating a racial slur that derogatorily refers to Black people that was painted in a city park.
Lt. Jeremy McClure on Wednesday said police had been to War Eagle Park on the west side of the city, which is near Chief War Eagle Monument.
"There was graffiti placed on (exterior) of the restroom at the entrance to the park, with a racial expletive in it," McClure said of the incident, which was reported just before noon Tuesday.
The painted phrase began, "I hate ..." and ended with a plural version of the "N" word.
Michael Wanbdi Gdeska O'Connor, of Sioux City, was out at the site Wednesday looking for spray paint cans. O'Connor burned sage in the vicinity of the graffiti, as a blessing to cleanse the area, which police had already air blasted away.
O'Connor frequently goes to the park to clean up vandalism, after five years of being involved in the city's Adopt A Park initiative.
"As a Native American community member and longtime Sioux City citizen, as well as a Yankton Sioux Tribal member, I am deeply concerned as to the recent vandalism and racist defacement that occurred at our sacred War Eagle Park," O'Connor said.
He added, "The racist defacement and vandalism that occurred in this sacred space should be a wake-up call to all. Without the efforts and friendships developed between Chief War Eagle and others from the Yankton Sioux Tribe with non-native settlers, there simply would be no Sioux City in existence today."
The monument marks the grave of the Lakota leader, who died in 1851. It is on a bluff overlooking the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers.
McClure said the department is working with the local Native American community to educate residents on the significance of the park.
"I would like to remind the public that abuse of the park is considered very disrespectful towards Chief War Eagle and his family who are buried there. We would hope that anyone visiting the park would treat it with the same reverence that a cemetery would be treated," McClure said.
O'Connor said he wishes police would patrol the park more frequently, as he said it is a magnet for frequent vandalism, illegal dumping and drug use.
"I have also observed this to be a popular stop off for many passersby along Interstate 29. All my time in the park I have had the privilege of meeting many folks from out of state and from across the nation," he said.