Buddha statue that mysteriously appeared on Los Angeles street vandalised

Buddha statue that mysteriously appeared on Los Angeles street vandalised
PHOTO: The Motor Avenue Improvement Association

What kind of vandal lacks so much peace in their heart that they would want to destroy a Buddha statue four times?

While the answer to that question remains unknown as the perpetrator has yet to be identified, we do know that the Los Angeles neighborhood of Palms in the US is determined to set things straight.

This is because the beloved Buddha statue, made of stone and raised on a large planter, has had quite the effect on the Palms community ever since its appearance.

The Buddha statue's story is a mysterious, but heartwarming one.

For years, the road divider between National Boulevard and Jasmine Avenue was a dumping site and littered with trash, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Then, one night, a Buddha statue mysteriously appeared.

"No one knows where it came from but the community was like, oh OK (sic), there's a Buddha in town," said Lee Wallach, director of the local Motor Avenue Improvement Association.

Ever since the statue's appearance, people stopped leaving trash at the median, according to a report from CBS News.

The MAIA's website describes this photos as from "Buddha's Happier Days."Photo: Motor Avenue Improvement Association

"There was no more garbage left anywhere near it. The area seemed clean. And beyond that, people started leaving donations at the statue," said resident Steven Frankel.

"It really rallied the community, and people started taking care of the Buddha," Wallach said.

People left flowers, vases, candles, and even fruit at the statue.

However, things took a turn when someone vandalised the statue one evening last month.

Two witnesses saw a man in a white sedan pull over, get out, and used a sledgehammer to decapitate the statue.

Councilman Paul Koretz visiting the statue to show support for the community. He has expressed his shock and disappointment in the decapitation.Photo: Motor Avenue Improvement Association

After the initial attack, the Buddha statue was replaced with a new one. It remained untouched for a few days until the vandal returned last week, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Because the replacement statue's head was reinforced with a metal bar this time, the man supposedly made multiple attempts to destroy it.

"He just had to pound it a lot but didn't get far, so he returned a night later and on the third time he really went to town and bashed in the face," said Wallach.

A resident printed a picture of the Buddha's face and placed it on the statue, but the vandal returned a fourth time and nearly decapitated it again.

The Buddha statue after the most recent attack. Photo: Motor Avenue Improvement Association

According to the Motor Avenue Improvement Association website, the community is working to replace the Buddha statue once again - this time possibly with a rock garden and video cameras.

"We will get a stronger Buddha and purchase the rebar, cement, wood, and a new pedestal to make him stronger. We will work on projects and Zen our community. We will add security for Buddha and now have a commitment for a location for a webcam to tape, view and help keep Buddha safe." 

The association has a response for the vandals, too: "We also will work to find the individual that needs our assistance and help. 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."

The neighborhood has since created a donation page with the goal of raising US$5000 (S$6,900) to restore the statue.

thanhb@sph.com.sg

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