Human Interest Denmark's Little Mermaid Statue Vandalized with 'Racist Fish' Graffiti The Copenhagen statue is an homage to Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen who wrote the original fairy tale By Benjamin VanHoose Benjamin VanHoose Twitter Benjamin VanHoose is an Associate Editor on the Movies team at PEOPLE. He's worked at PEOPLE for over three years as a writer and reporter across our Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams, covering everything from the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial to the Oscars. He regularly covers red carpet events and has interviewed stars like Drew Barrymore, Ryan Reynolds and Kirsten Dunst. He previously worked as a copy editor at Topix Media Lab. People Editorial Guidelines Published on July 3, 2020 02:12 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Police officers take pictures of the iconic Little Mermaid statue after the rock that serves as its plinth appeared with the message "Racist Fish" in English spray painted on it overnight in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 3. Photo: MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Copenhagen's popular Little Mermaid statue has been defaced with graffiti that reads "RACIST FISH." On Friday, local police confirmed that the iconic monument — 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. Earlier this year, 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. Virginia Statue of Black Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe Painted with 'White Lives Matter' Graffiti The statue was completed in August 1913 by sculptor Edvard Eriksen, and was 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 she's unsure why The Little Mermaid would be labeled racist. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories "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." The instance of vandalism comes 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." RELATED VIDEO: Christ The Redeemer Statue Pays Tribute to Healthcare Workers Across the Globe Massachusetts Community 'Saddened and Sickened' by Plymouth Rock Graffiti Vandalism A number of longtime U.S. statues are also being removed amid the Black Lives Matter movement, as Americans call for an end to racial injustices. Monuments that honor Confederate leaders in South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, and elsewhere have been taken away in recent weeks, with local officials condemning the historical injustices represented by the figures.