Over the weekend a statue of Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park was spray painted with the words, “no pride in genocide,” while a second statue of Cook several kilometres away in the suburb of Randwick received a similar treatment.
Cook has become a divisive figure as one of the first British explorers to land in Australia, charting much of the country’s east coast and paving the way for colonization soon after.
The monument in Randwick was emblazoned with the word “sovereignty” — which is associated with the political push for Indigenous self determination and ownership of parts of Australia.
Two women have been charged over the first incident, having been apprehended nearby at around 4:00 a.m. local time carrying black masks and spray paint. Investigations were continuing into the second case.
Historical monuments in Britain and the United States have been targeted recently as part of Black Lives Matter protesters, with several being torn down, including images of men who worked in the slave trade.
Significant efforts have been made in Britain to protect a statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with the monument being encased in steel to stop potential vandalism.
In Australia, calls have repeatedly been made in recent years for statues of colonial-era settlers to be removed due to their emotional impact on First Nations People whose ancestors suffered due to the arrival of Europeans.
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