A Buddha statue that brought peace to the city of Palms near Los Angeles was destroyed when it was hit with a sledgehammer for the fourth time.
The statue was decapitated last month when a man in a white sedan pulled over at a little traffic island, which was once used as a dumping site, at Jasmine Avenue and National Boulevard and took a sledgehammer to it, the LA Times reported.
The vandal returned to the site for a second time last week, but when the statue’s head was reinforced with a metal bar, the man came back two more times to destroy it completely.
Witnesses say that the man was reportedly “heard yelling about Al Qaeda and Muslim extremism and things of that nature.”
Lee Wallach, director of the Motor Avenue Improvement Association, said that the vandalism left the neighborhood shocked.
“We’re a very multi-cultural and eclectic community. There’s a big population of Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Jews … so people were just taken aback,” he told the LA Times.
The incident brought the community closer together in an effort to protect the Buddha statue.
“First, our thanks to the individual that would still like to remain anonymous who brought us all together by placing Buddha in our community late one night with no fanfare. The individuals that damaged and desecrated Buddha did not realize that this would strengthen and mobilize the community,” the association wrote on its website.
Wallach hopes that the vandal is found and can learn from his actions.
“We also will work to find the individual that needs our assistance and help,” the association wrote. “His destruction of Buddha is a call for help. It is clear he does not truly understand the philosophy of Buddha nor the spirit of Palms.”
Wallach said that the community will not “let this hateful activity win.”
The vandalism of the statue has been reported to the L.A. Police Department, and the neighborhood created a donation page to raise $5,000 to repair the statue and install security cameras, according to CBS LA.