Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A vandal sprayed "Free Hong Kong" on the base of Denmark's famous Little Mermaid statue Monday.
The "Free Hong Kong" slogan carried by protesters on signs in the pro-democracy movement, which started in June over a bill that would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China to face trials, was sprayed on the rock the mermaid sits on in big red letters and small white letters.
Copenhagen Police said the statue was vandalized early Monday, and a police spokesperson said police dogs were used to search the area and officers are reviewing CCTV footage.
The statue made of bronze and granite, which has sat at Langelinje pier in the Copenhagen harbor for more than 100 years, has been the victim of vandalism several times, the VisitCopenhagen website states. The mermaid lost its head twice, its arm once and has had paint poured on it several times, but has been restored each time.
It has also been banned from Facebook over nudity.
The statue has been especially popular with Chinese tourists, and in 2010 it was part of Denmark's pavilion at the World Exhibition in Shanghai.
It is based on Hans Christian Andersen's story of a mermaid who saves the life of a shipwrecked prince and gives up everything to win his love. The statue was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen, who attended The Little Mermaid ballet at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen in 1909, and was so moved by the performance that he commissioned Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create the Little Mermaid sculpture. Eriksen modeled the mermaid's head from ballerina Ellen Price who played the Little Mermaid in the ballet, but since she refused to model for him in the nude, he modeled the body from his wife who posed for him. In August 1913, the statue was unveiled to the public as part of a city initiative to decorate parks and public areas.
A few years ago, the statue was subject to vandals who poured red paint over the statue and wrote "Danmark (sic) defend the whales of the Faroe Islands," on the ground in front of it.