A 40-year-old Charlestown man was charged with vandalizing the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common on Friday morning, police said.
Delvin Dixon pleaded not guilty to a charge of malicious destruction to a memorial at his arraignment in Boston Municipal Court, Suffolk district attorney’s office said. A judge released him on personal recognizance, but ordered him to stay away from the Common and the Public Garden.
Dixon allegedly broke the sword off of the bronze Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, which is just across from the State House, police said.
Police said two witnesses, off-duty police officers from out of town, notified them at about 10:40 a.m. that they had seen a man climb up on the monument at Park and Beacon streets and snap the sword carried by the figure of Colonel Shaw, who is astride his horse and leading soldiers on foot.
The witnesses said the man placed the sword back on the monument before fleeing, authorities said.
Boston officers took Dixon into custody near Tremont and Boylston streets, and arrested him after he was identified by the witnesses, police said.
It was not the first time the memorial has been vandalized. In 2012, a Quincy woman who was described as mentally troubled threw paint on it.
The memorial is a tribute to the 54th Regiment, which was formed in 1863, according to the National Park Service website, and was the first documented unit composed of African-Americans to fight in the Civil War. It drew volunteers from across the North and as far away as the Caribbean. Shaw was chosen by Governor John Andrew to be its leader.
The 54th became famous after a heroic attack on Fort Wagner, S.C., in which Shaw and scores of other regiment members were killed. The story of the regiment was popularized in the 1989 movie “Glory,” which won three Oscars.
The memorial, unveiled in 1897, was created by noted artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens .