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Joe Louis Fist Vandalized

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I saw this on the news this morning....hopefully I can find a pic of it to post later today.

Romulus police arrest two men believed to have vandalized Detroit statue

February 23, 2004


ROMULUS, Mich. -- Two men are in custody Monday morning after police say they coated a downtown Detroit landmark commemorating boxing great Joe Lewis with gallons of white gloss paint.

The two suspects, whose identities have not been released, were stopped by police in Romulus after authorities were tipped off by a motorist at about 4:45 a.m. EST, said Romulus Police Lt. Cora Semrau.

Semrau said the motorist, who saw two men covered with white paint driving out of downtown Detroit in a burgundy GMC pickup, followed them onto westbound Interstate-94 while calling state police on his cellular phone.

The two were stopped by Romulus police as they were entering northbound Interstate-275, and were handed over to state police deputies for transport back to Detroit.

Detroit television station WXYZ showed images of the suspended metal fist doused with white paint. The station reported that the paint had been applied with a mop.

Additional details were not immediately available.

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The Joe Louis "fist" was dripping with white paint early Monday after vandals attacked the Detroit landmark.


Cleanup crews were quick to the scene to erase the damage that had been done.


Firefighters used high-powered hoses to remove the paint from the sculpture.


The high-powered hoses created a mist that surrounded the landmark, which commemorates boxing great Joe Louis.


One resident speculated that the vandalism was a reaction to the recent shooting deaths of two Detroit police officers.


The cleanup was close to an end, but authorities continued to investigate what motivated the attack.

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ART SYMBOLISM: Hands down, fist is still controversial

February 24, 2004



Joe Louis' son liked it, his widow was indifferent and a Detroit city councilman once quipped that he was glad the sculptor didn't burden downtown with his take on Casanova's most impressive, er, asset.

Since it arrived nearly 18 years ago, the 8,000-pound blackened bronze forearm and fist known formally as the Monument to Joe Louis has been a lightning rod as much as a tribute to Detroit's greatest boxer.

While some see it as a representation of Louis' power or the city's fighting spirit, others view it as unwelcoming or glorifying violence.

Rebecca Hart, assistant curator of contemporary art for the Detroit Institute of Arts, said artist Robert Graham rejected the notion of sculpting Louis' full figure as too obvious and limiting.

"He wanted something that would capture the soul of Joe Louis," she said Monday.

The fist and forearm are a metaphor for his strength and personal achievement, Hart said.

Differing views of its symbolism are to be expected of art, she said.

"What happens with every artwork is, you look through the eyes of the times you live in," she added.

It is unclear what statement -- if any -- vandals who covered it with white latex paint early Monday were trying to make.

Of all the opinions on the sculpture, known to many simply as "the fist," perhaps none was as ambivalent as Louis' widow, Martha, after viewing it for the first time in 1987.

"It could be anybody's arm," she said.

Contact M.L. ELRICK at 313-223-3327 or [email protected]

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