Former White House photographer Pete Souza shared the news and encouraged people to donate money to help fix the defaced artwork

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Barack Obama
Barack Obama
| Credit: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty

A mural of President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama has been vandalized beyond repair. 

The outdoor artwork, which was painted in Madison, Wisconsin by Dane Arts Mural Arts, featured portraits of the former president and first lady against a blue background with the words "Respect," "Empower," and "Include" between them.

After the mural was defaced by vandals, the city was forced to fully paint over the president's face to cover up the damage. The first lady's portrait remained untouched.

Pete Souza, who worked as the Chief Official White House Photographer for Obama and Ronald Reagan, shared the news on Instagram Tuesday, posting a photo of himself posing in front of the mural after it was commissioned and another of the repaired portrait after it had been vandalized. 

"Last year, my daughter made this picture of me standing in front of this beautiful mural that was commissioned by DAMA (Dane Arts Mural Arts) in Madison as part of the State Street mural project," Souza, who is based in Madison, wrote. "I'm sad to report that the depiction of President Obama was vandalized beyond repair, and the city had to paint over his portrait (swipe to see how it looks today).⁣"

Souza added: "To support the Madison Arts Commission, I made a donation to the Friends of the Madison Arts Commission (www.friendsofmadisonarts.org). Direct link in profile. Let's hope they are able to re-do the mural of President Obama, so he can be pictured once again next to Michelle.⁣"

The photographer's post gathered plenty of disappointed comments, with users replying they were "at a loss for words" and slamming the vandalism as a "shameless" act.

"The actions of the vandals speak loudly about their hearts. The mural speaks to remind us of the decency of a man and woman who loved their country," one commenter wrote. "A damaged mural will never rob us of the work completed. It reminds us of the work yet to be done!"

Another added, "Heartbreaking that someone would vandalize such a beautiful work & message. Let's hope it can be restored 🙏🏼 (but even if it can't, no hateful action can ever diminish the Obamas' legacy)."

Last year, another Obama mural was vandalized in Chicago. Artwork in the Andersonville neighborhood of the city featuring Obama was defaced when the president's face was sprayed over with black paint. Other similar incidents have occurred in Houston, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama.