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#MeToo painted on VJ Day kiss effigy following sailor's death is latest in string of statue vandalism

The iconic statue was vandalised but has since been cleaned. Credit: Sarasota Police Department

MeToo has been painted on a statue depicting an iconic photograph following the death of one of its subjects, a World War II sailor who was pictured kissing a dental nurse upon his return home.

The phrase was spray painted in red on the left leg of the woman in the 'Unconditional Surrender' statue - Greta Zimmer Friedman - in Florida early Tuesday, Sarasota police said.

It occurred following the death of sailor George Mendosa, who died on Monday, two days before his 96th birthday.

Authorities estimate the damage to the statue to be worth more than $1,000 (£767).

They say the incident occurred sometime Monday, adding how officers didn’t find any spray paint bottles in the area. No other objects were defaced.

The photograph in New York’s Times Square is one of the 20th century's most famous. Credit: Victor Jorgensen/US navy

The photograph is one of the 20th century's most famous, encapsulating the joy felt by many returnees who had survived the hardship of war and symoblising relief felt by those at home welcoming loved ones.

However, some have described what's happening in the photograph as an act of sexual assault, saying sailor Mendosa did not have Ms Friedman's consent to kiss her.

In fact, in 2005 she told Patricia Redmond in an interview for Veterans History Project how she was "grabbed" by the sailor but it was clear from her tone and other remarks in the conversation that she did not view the kiss negatively.

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Despite this, many social media users suggested the #MeToo vandalism was a reaction to what many describe as sexual assault in the image.

As time and attitudes move on, statues, which often depicts historic characters or events, are prone to vandalism, as their subjects sometimes have controversial backgrounds.

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This is just the latest in a string of statue defacements that have taken place in recent months, with depictions of Communist Karl Marx and former PM Winston Churchill, among others, all becoming victims of vandalism.

  • Karl Marx
The words “Doctrine of Hate” and “Architect of Genocide” were daubed in red on the grave of Highgate Cemetery’s most famous resident. Credit: PA

A memorial to German philosopher Karl Marx was vandalised for the second time in February, with "Doctrine of Hate" and "Architect of Genocide" daubed in red on his grave at Highgate Cemetery.

The latest episode follows a hammer attack on the monument in north London two weeks ago, which prompted the charity which runs the cemetery to lament that the memorial "will never be the same again"

Following the hammer attack on the marble plaque of the memorial on February 4, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust said it was clearly a “deliberate and sustained attack”.

No arrests were made and police continue to hunt the culprit.

  • Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt
The 'Allies Statue' was vandalised along with other war memorials. Credit: PA

In January a vandal attacked the "Allies Statue" of Second World War prime minister Sir Winston Churchill and his US counterpart Franklin D Roosevelt in New Bond Street in London.

It came spate of vandalism to statues and memorials in the capital which also saw the Bomber Command Memorial in London's Green Park covered in white paint.

The RAF Benevolent Fund said it was the fourth time in six years that the bomber memorial had been sabotaged and that the white gloss paint remained wet "at daybreak" when it was discovered.

The Bomber Command statue was vandalised in 2013 when a man daubed the word "Islam" on it shortly after the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks.

The statue commemorates more than 55,500 members of the Bomber Command who died in the Second World War.