In a recent incident in Australia, a historic Captain James Cook statue was vandalized and a Queen Victoria monument was defaced with red paint. The act seems to be a form of protest.
An incident of late-night vandalism took place in Melbourne on the eve of Australia Day, and it is currently being investigated by the police.
On 26 January, we commemorate the arrival of Britain’s First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, marking the beginning of the colonial era.
A message was left on the Cook statue’s plinth, indicating a potential downfall of the colony.
Authorities reported that the vandalism to both memorials occurred during the early morning hours of Thursday.
“The [Cook] statue was reportedly severed at the ankles.” According to a statement from Victoria Police, there were individuals observed lingering in the vicinity during the time of the incident.
The 1914 monument stands as a tribute to Cook’s significant voyage from 1768-1771, where he meticulously mapped the eastern coast of the country. This exploration played a crucial role in the subsequent decision to dispatch the First Fleet, under the leadership of Captain Arthur Phillip.
The statue has a recurring issue of being targeted by vandals around the same date every year. In 2022, a vibrant red paint was splashed across it, while back in 2018, it faced an act of graffiti with the words “no pride” and an Aboriginal flag thoughtfully placed beside it.
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan expressed her strong disapproval of the vandalism of both monuments, emphasising that such actions have no place in our community.
“We’ll be collaborating with council to restore and bring back the statue in St Kilda,” she mentioned, alluding to the suburb where it is situated.
Efforts are currently being made to restore the Queen Victoria memorial located in the heart of the city.
Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo expressed her understanding of the differing opinions surrounding Australia Day. However, she strongly disapproved of the damage done to a public asset, as it will ultimately result in financial burden for the community.
According to her, the council had made arrangements for a security guard to protect the Cook statue on Thursday. However, the incident took place before the scheduled arrival of the guard.
Recent surveys indicate that a significant majority of Australians are in favour of commemorating Australia Day on the 26th of January.
However, there are many Indigenous Australians and others who believe that celebrating a certain date is inappropriate, as it symbolises the historical injustices of land theft and cultural displacement experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Invasion Day” protests have seen a significant increase in participation over the past few years, with a growing number of individuals choosing to abstain from celebrating the holiday.