Police are investigating after a Black Lives Matter mural in front of the Vermont State House was vandalized early Sunday.
The mural on State Street, which was painted earlier in the day by hundreds of participants, was smeared with concrete mix and motor oil. Profanities were spray-painted on the ground, as well as President Donald Trump's name.
“Early this morning, in an effort to fuel hate and division, the Black Lives Matter painting in front of the State House was vandalized," Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement.
"This painting serves as an important reminder to make equity a priority and use this movement to drive real action and long overdue change. This act of vandalism only reinforces that we’re not immune to racism, divisiveness and hate in Vermont. We must redouble our efforts to dismantle systemic racism and bigotry, and stay united as Vermonters."
Scott said state police were assisting the Montpelier Police Department in an investigation into the incident.
A photo released by police shows graffiti with messages including "$400 million gone'' and "Put it back call Trump.'' A statement from police says the graffiti "referenced government spending'' but did not appear to be directed at the mural.
On Sunday, Montpelier police released a photo of a possible suspect in the incident. The person was described as a Caucasian male around 50 years old, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 170 pounds, with scruffy facial hair.
The mural, which features 25-foot lettering, was approved by the Montpelier City Council last week.
"While it is easy to be disgusted and angered by the vandalism of these anonymous cowards, for me their actions reinforce the need to address head-on the racism and white supremacy right here in our communities," said state Rep. Mitzi Johnson. "It is incumbent upon all of us to recognize it, name it, fight it, and right the centuries of wrong."
The vandalism comes amid nationwide unrest over the death of George Floyd, which has sparked waves of protests calling for the end of systemic racism.