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Hmong Cultural Center museum vandalized before opening in Minneapolis

Mark Pfeifer, the centre’s program director, told CNN he discovered the vandalism on Wednesday.

“I saw it right away and my heart sank. It was so depressing,” he said.

White paint covered the museum facade and the museum’s new advertising sign, which had just entered after almost a month of waiting.

There were also a few stencilled words in the painting, Pfeifer said, which read “life, freedom and victory.”

Pfeifer said they need to order another panel and are working with the building owners on a cleanup plan, while adding additional security.

“We have received racist emails and calls in the past, but nothing like an act of vandalism like this,” he said.

They had windows smashed during a protest last year, Pfeifer said, but the damage was not specific to their building – several others on the block also sustained damage.

Police are investigating and looking at the security footage, but Pfeifer said the vandals were wearing masks and caps, so it’s hard to make out their features. He said staff are hopeful someone has witnessed the crime and can provide leads.

Hmong Cultural Center museum vandalized before opening in Minneapolis

“It’s horrible. I’ve worked so hard, with the staff, on this museum for the past two years,” he said. “Everything (the community) knows about us, it’s this incident… and I just hope that in the end something good happens.”

The Hmong Cultural Center Museum is the only independent Hmong museum in the country, according to Pfeifer. The centre’s mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding in Minnesota and nationally.

The center teaches the culture, history and cultural contributions of the Minnesota Hmong community. Among them, Sunisa Lee, the American gymnast who won three Olympic medals in Tokyo.