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Thieves damage civil rights icon Rosa Parks’ former Alabama home

By Verna Gates

BIRMINGHAM Ala. (Reuters) - Alabama police are seeking help in catching thieves who ransacked a Montgomery apartment building where black civil rights activist Rosa Parks lived when she was famously arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955.

The vandals damaged some items in Parks' onetime home, which serves as a small museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places, in their hunt for copper pipes and tubing, authorities said.

The apartment was hit in "a random act of vandalism," Montgomery police Sergeant Denise Barnes said. The incident was reported to police on Monday.

Targeted or not, “it is a travesty that someone could disrespect the dignity and honor of Mrs. Parks by causing immeasurable damage to her home," said Montgomery Housing Authority Executive Director Evette Hester.

Thieves tore apart walls and plaster while stripping copper pipes from the Cleveland Court complex, which was vacant due to renovations aimed in part at turning Parks' apartment into a more expansive museum.

Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and considered a key early development in the modern U.S. civil rights movement.

Her apartment is furnished with period replicas that were only mildly damaged, according to Hester, who said the museum plans would press ahead.

  Parks lived in the apartment with her husband and her mother from 1951 to 1957. She died in 2005 at the age of 92.

No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

(Reporting by Verna Gates; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Eric Beech)

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