Vandalism of African American photos in Kinston remains unsolved

KINSTON, NC (WITN) Photos of influential African American musicians in Lenoir County, a project by the North Carolina Arts Council in Kinston, have been torn down in what's being called an act of vandalism.

It's a case that's gone unsolved for months after being reported to police in January.

Thirty-five of the pictures lined Kinston's Queen Street in an effort to beautify the downtown as it undergoes major construction work. Only eleven of the photos remain.

Lessette Kornegay, known as just Lessette on stage, was born and raised in Kinston. She is a gospel and soul singer and songwriter. She is one of the select artists in the African American Music Trail. She's also one of 24 that had their photos torn down.

Kornegay says, "When I found out someone actually vandalized it, it really hurt me, because, I'm just saying why would they do that? Not just my picture, but any of the pictures that have been vandalized."

Sandy Landis, Lenoir County Arts Council Director, says, "They literally were ripped from the windows and torn into pieces and left to lay on the sidewalk."

Kornegay wonders what would motivate someone to do such a thing. "is it a jealously thing? Is it a kiddie thing? Is it a hate crime? What is this? It hurt me."

Kornegay says the photos spoke for themselves. "Recognition that what we've done and brought to the music community and the world, that they appreciated it, in a small way, and to have someone vandalize it, it's like a slap in the face."

The arts council director said it would cost $3,500 to replace the destroyed photos, something they cannot afford, and will not be able to do.