A statue of George Floyd was defaced and marked with the name of a neo-Nazi group in New York City, according to police, less than a week after it was unveiled.
Police officers said the nearly two-metre-tall monument to the 46-year-old Black man murdered by a police officer in May last year was found covered in paint on Thursday morning.
The inscription was of the United States far-right cell Patriot Front, which is thought to have similarly vandalised another Floyd tribute in neighbouring New Jersey.
Authorities released a video showing four individuals, one of whom was holding a spray paint can, near the scene of the crime in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn.
The defacements came before the Friday sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the 45-year-old officer whose killing of Floyd sparked the biggest demonstrations for racial justice in decades in the US.
New York police said they are investigating the attack on the monument.
“I’m going to be absolutely clear with the neo-Nazi group that did this: get out of our state,” tweeted New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, adding that specialist agents from the state police force would offer to help the investigation.
“We will bring these cowards to justice,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on Twitter.
The wooden statue – made by artist Chris Carnabuci – was inaugurated on Saturday in the presence of Terrence Floyd, brother of George.
Late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, another statue of Floyd, in front of the town hall of Newark, New Jersey, was also covered in paint.
According to the news site NJ.com, the inscription “Patriot Front” was also discovered there, before the bronze statue was immediately cleaned.
Newark Police launched an investigation.
Minnesota law provides for a minimum sentence of 12.5 years for Chauvin, who has been jailed since being convicted on three counts of murder and manslaughter two months ago.
But the prosecution has cited Chauvin’s “particularly cruel” conduct and called for a maximum sentence of 30 years.