UCLA’s Bruin Bear mascot statue was found covered in red and yellow paint Thursday morning, the UCLA Police Department department confirmed.
The discovery of the vandalism comes two days before the anticipated UCLA-USC football game. UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said UCPD detectives are still working on narrowing down the timeframe of when the vandalism occurred.
“As with Tommy Trojan, the bear goes into hibernation and sometime during the last week, someone pried open the box and decided to vandalize the bear,” Kilgore said.
Both Tommy Trojan and Hecuba are currently being guarded by USC Helenes while the Trojan Knights are on suspension. Hecuba Watch Chair Seman Hemani said that the Helenes learned of the vandalism through UCLA’s meme page and that they will now be a “back on our feet” in case a similar attack occurs.
“Before that happened we had all been here as a symbolic thing and that nothing would happen but since we found out about it, we’ve been on high alert,” she said.
Los Angeles Times reported that the bear was last vandalised in 2014 when a group sprayed “SC RUNS LA” in red across the bear’s torso nine days before that year’s game. The statue was also vandalized in 2009 when someone cut through a tarp protecting the statue and poured cardinal and gold paint on it, costing UCLA $20,000 in repairs.
“I think little pranks are okay, but if it’s defacing property we don’t condone that,” Hemani said. “We’re just hoping that what they did doesn’t really affect UCLA that much.”
The last time Tommy Trojan was vandalized was in the 1940s when UCLA students covered the statue in blue paint. The following year, the Trojan Knights wrapped Tommy Trojan in tape to protect the statue, a tradition that carries on to date.