Statue of iconic WW2 kiss vandalised with #MeToo graffiti after US sailor's death

Sarasota Police Department

A US statue showing a sailor kissing a stranger based on the famous photograph at the end of World War Two has been vandalised with graffiti reading #MeToo – after the man in the photo died.

Red spray paint was used to vandalise the Unconditional Surrender statue in Sarasota, Florida.

According to local police estimates, the cost to clean the graffiti off is $1,000 (£765).

The giant statue depicts George Mendonsa, a sailor, kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman in the middle of Times Square following jubilant celebrations of the conclusion of the war.

The man in the iconic photograph died aged 95 after suffering with congestive heart failure, his daughter told NBC News.

His image had become one of the most recognisable symbols to come from the aftermath of war, kissing Greta on 14 August 1945 – otherwise known as VJ Day, the day Japan officially surrendered.

The vandalism, according to Sarasota PD, occurred on 19 February, the day after Mendonsa died.

When officers arrived, they found the words #MeToo spray painted in red along the left leg of the nurse. The police are appealing for information about who damaged the statue.

There was no available surveillance video in the area that captured the incident. There are no known witnesses. It’s believed the incident occurred on Monday, February 18, 2019, between the mid-afternoon and evening hours, however, it is unknown exactly what time.

Though the original picture was an icon in American history, recently it has become the topic of intense debate about consent and assault.

In an interview for the Veteran History Project, Greta revealed she hadn’t consented to the kiss, saying Mendonsa had “grabbed” her.

She did go on to say the kiss was a "jubilant act" an "it was just an event of 'thank the god the war is over'".

I was grabbed by a sailor, and it wasn't that much of a kiss, it was more of a jubilant act that he didn't have to go back, I found out later, he was so happy that he did not have to go back to the Pacific where they already had been through the war. And the reason he grabbed someone dressed like a nurse was that he just felt very grateful to nurses who took care of the wounded. And so I had to go back to the office, and I told my bosses what I had seen. And they said, Cancel all the appointments, we're closing the office. So they left, and I cancelled all the appointments and went home.

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