The New York City Police Department (NYPD) hate crimes task force launched an investigation on Wednesday after a statue of African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson was vandalized with a racial slur and other graffiti.

According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the statue of teammate Pee Wee Reese with arm around Robinson was defaced sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"It commemorates an incident in Robinson’s rookie year, 1947, when Reese, who was Robinson’s teammate on the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked onto the infield and put his arm around Robinson in a gesture of friendship," the Daily Eagle noted. "At the time, Robinson was being subjected to racist catcalls and threats on a regular basis."

WNBC reported that the graffiti included the words "die n*gger," a swastika and the word "Hitler."

"Immediately we went into action to try to clean it and remove the graffiti," Brooklyn Cyclones Director of Communications Billy Harner told WINS.

Harner said that police were hoping surveillance video would help them track down the vandals.

[Photo credit: Glenn Schuck]