Police are investigating whether an attack on a memorial to slavery in Rotterdam at the weekend was racially motivated.
The monument on the Lloydpier, which depicts four people breaking free of their chains on the deck of a ship, was covered in white graffiti tags on Sunday night.
Staff at the Shipping and Transport College, which maintains the monument, reported the damage on Monday morning and council workers removed the paint by lunchtime.
Carlos Gonçalves, chair of the Shared History, Shared Future Foundation, said the attack on the monument appeared to be linked to the weekend Keti Koti commemorations, marking the 160th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
“It shows once and for all that we still have a long way to go,” Gonçalves told local broadcaster Rijnmond. “People are making their dissatisfaction known in a physically violent way.”
Last weekend an artwork erected in Vlissingen harbour in memory of the victims of slavery was daubed with racist slogans and covered in Dutch flag stickers.
Former councillor Peggy Wijntuin, who was behind the campaign to put up the monument, called the attack on the Rotterdam memorial “scandalous”.
“I’m lost for words. Don’t take your frustration out on something that’s so important to the city of Rotterdam,” she said.
Local graffiti artists said some of the tags resembled the signature of Timer, an activist who has been part of the graffiti scene in Rotterdam-West since 1985. Another nametag, “Cabo”, which is not associated with local groups, was also used.
Timer was one of the founders of a group known as the BadBoyz Posse, but other members told Rijnmond that they condemned the damage to the monument.
“As a group we distance ourselves from this,” founding group member Faisal Rajjab said. “If it was Timer, I have no idea why he would do it. He’s black himself.”
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