The statue of the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen, the most recognizable tourist symbol in the Danish capital, appeared Friday painted with the legend “racist fish”, officials said.

The police have opened an investigation into the vandalism of the famous sculpture located by the port of Langelinie, visited annually by more than one million tourists and which in its 107 years of existence has been used many times as an object for political claims.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement, promoted in the United States after the death of the black citizen George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, has led to the destruction of symbols considered racist such as statues of confederate personalities or historical figures who defended slavery and held slaves.

Such acts have been imitated in cities around the world, including Copenhagen, where, for example, the statue of the missionary Hans Egede, considered the father of the Danish colonization of Greenland, was painted red a few days ago.

The choice of the Little Mermaid in this case seems to be more in keeping with her status as a national symbol than with the character in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, which is inspired by her, apparently without any racist content.

Nor is it known that Andersen or the beer magnate Carl Jacobsen, who donated the statue to the city at the time, have any connection with slavery or have been known to be racist.

The Little Mermaid has had a haphazard existence: she has been decapitated three times, her arm has been torn off and she was even blown up with explosives from her granite pedestal, as well as appearing painted in various colours or dressed in football shirts, veils or a Ku Klux Klan tunic.

From being the main target of feminist anger in previous decades, she was used for all kinds of political demands, from those of squatters’ movements to those of xenophobic groups.

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