According to a police report, the sign was set on fire sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning. Officers responded to the burned sign around 2 a.m. Sunday after being alerted to a fire in the area by the Anniston Fire Department.
Anniston police Sgt. Josh Doggrell said investigators have not determined when the sign was set ablaze.
Attempts today to reach investigators at the Anniston Fire Department were unsuccessful.
The fire destroyed a back panel of the sign, which outlined the events of Mother’s Day 1961, when a mob firebombed a bus carrying civil rights activists through the state testing a Supreme Court ruling mandating integration of travel facilities. A front panel, reading “Future Home of Freedom Riders Park” was partially burned as well.
Doggrell said investigators are handling the incident as criminal mischief. (The case doesn’t meet the requirements to be considered arson, he said.)
Criminal mischief in the third degree is a Class B misdemeanor under state law, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Doggrell said there are no suspects in the incident, but investigators are searching for possible witnesses.
On Sunday, Pete Conroy, co-chairman of the park’s organizing committee, replaced the front panel of the sign. He said he hopes to replace the back panel in the next few days.
i>Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.