A statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been vandalised here in the capital of Netherlands by unknown miscreants with graffiti and spray painting, amid a wave of attacks on controversial figures following the protests around the world after the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd, according to media reports.
The statue of Gandhi on the Churchilllaan in Amsterdam was covered with red paint and the pedestal has ‘racist’ and an abbreviation for an expletive against the police chalked on it, Metro, the Dutch newspaper, reported.
According to alderman Rutger Groot Wassink, the municipality will file a declaration for daubing. “Obviously, we are opposed to any form of vandalism and daubing of these things is completely unacceptable,” the city official was quoted as saying by the AD.nl. “It is logical that we will file a declaration, the image will be cleaned,” Wassink said.
It is not yet known who is behind the daubing. An employee of the Kunstwacht, who provides maintenance and repairs, says that the cleaning work can take hours. A 75-year-old man saw the daubs on Wednesday and called the municipality.
“I have lived here for forty years and I have never experienced this. I have been watching the statue for years,” the man said. Since the death of 46-year-old Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, US, and subsequent worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, there has been much debate about street names and statues of people with a colonial past.
All over the world, statues of controversial historical figures are brought down or defaced. Recently, images and buildings have been defaced in various places that refer to the colonial past of the Netherlands, including the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and the statue of Piet Hein in Rotterdam.
These are anti-racist expressions that follow the death of Floyd through a white police officer, Metro reported. Gandhi was known as a champion of human rights and non-violence. But in his twenties, which he spent in South Africa, he still called black people “troublesome, very dirty and they live like beasts” and found that the white people were the “dominant race”.
Later he renounced those ideas, the report added. The statue was unveiled on the Churchillaan on October 2, 1990, in honour of Gandhi’s 121st birthday.
The design was made by the sculptor Karel Gomes, who died in 2016. At the time, the plan for the statue came from the Hindu organisation Triveda. Gandhi is depicted walking, featuring robes around the body, slippers on the feet, a book in one hand and a stick in the other.