Copenhagen’s popular Little Mermaid statue has been defaced with graffiti that reads “RACIST FISH.”
On Friday, local police confirmed that the iconic monument which was established in honor of the 1800s fairy tale’s Danish author Hans Christian Andersen , was the target of a spray painter.
“We can confirm that The Little Mermaid has been vandalized some time before 9:00 a.m. this morning,” Copenhagen police said in a statement to Agence France-Press (AFP). “An unknown person has written the words ‘Racist Fish’ on it. We are investigating the case.”
The outlet reported that the same statue has been damaged several times before, including in 1964 and 1998 when the central mermaid character’s head was stolen, and also when one of her arms was severed in 1984. Not long ago, someone tagged the statue with the message “Free Hong Kong.”
According to the Associated Press, no one has yet claimed credit for the vandalism of the more than 5-foot-high bronze sculpture located at the Copenhagen harbor, a major tourist attraction.
It was completed in August 1913 by sculptor Edvard Eriksen, and commissioned by Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen as a gift to the City of Copenhagen, according to tourism site Visit Copenhagen.
Ane Grum-Schwensen, a scholar at the Hans Christian Andersen Center at the University of Southern Denmark said that she’s unsure why The Little Mermaid would be labeled racist.
“Of course, in general with literary works, you can read them with various glasses,” Grum-Schwensen said, per AFP. “However, I do find it a little difficult to see, what would be especially racist in the adventure The Little Mermaid.”
This instance of vandalism surfaces as monuments around the world are becoming defaced. Last month, a statue honoring late black tennis legend Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Virginia, was vandalized with spray paint that read “WLM” and “White Lives Matter.”
Police and commentators were left puzzled Friday as to who might have done it and what their message really is.
According to police other statues around Copenhagen have also been vandalized with ‘various phrases.’