Crime

‘#MeToo’ sprayed on Unconditional Surrender statue. Police are looking for vandal

An iconic statue in downtown Sarasota sustained $1,000 in damage after “#MeToo” was spray painted on the statue just one day after the man portrayed in the statue died, according to Sarasota police.

The Unconditional Surrender statue depicts a famous photo of a spontaneous kiss in the streets of New York City between a U.S. sailor and a woman after the news of World War II coming to an end following Japan’s surrender on Aug. 14, 1945.

The sailor, George Mendonsa, died Sunday, two days before this 96th birthday.

The woman depicted in the photo and statue, Greta Friedman, died in 2016. She was 92. Friedman reportedly told CBS News in 2012 she didn’t see Mendonsa approaching.

She also previously told the Library of Congress he “just came over and kissed or grabbed,” and said it was not a romantic event.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, who took the photo for LIFE magazine, died in 1995.

The statue at the corner of Gulfstream Avenue and Bayfront Drive is a popular spot for rallies of various causes. But police believe sometime Monday afternoon or evening, the statue became a canvas for the #MeToo movement.

Officers were called to the statue around 12:52 a.m. Tuesday where the say the words “#MeToo” spray painted in red between the nurse’s ankle and knee on her left leg.

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Sarasota Police Department

No surveillance video was available in the area. It is unclear when the incident occurred. Police searched the area, but did not fine any spray paint bottles or other defaced objects.

Damage to the statue is estimated to be more than $1,000 due to the size of the area the paint covers and the resources needed to repair it, according to police.

By mid-day Tuesday, the statue had been cleaned up.

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Several couples modeled the ‘Unconditional Surrender’ kiss on the Sarasota Bayfront on Tuesday, including Maureen and Cliff Camden. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

Visitors to the statue on Tuesday seemed split on whether they liked the statue, but were overall critical of anyone defacing it.

“I think it is a shame and a waste of resources. It’s public art,” Olga Hanlon said.

Her friend, Carol Guymer, agreed.

“My sister and her husband are coming from England this summer and I am sure they will take a lot of pictures here,” Guymer said.

Dawn and John Smyth also stopped by the statue.

“It’s an absolute shame,” Dawn Smythe said.

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The ‘Unconditional Surrender’ statue on the Sarasota Bayfront is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. Late Monday or early Tuesday, someone painted a red #MeToo on one of the nurse’s legs. The graffiti was quickly cleaned up early Tuesday. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

Francesca Santini was visiting from Baltimore and paid a visit to the statue with Michael Zimberg.

“It’s a little bit upsetting to see someone voice their opinion in that way. It’s an iconic sculpture,” Santini said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sarasota police at 941-954-7025 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS or online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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The ‘Unconditional Surrender’ statue on the Sarasota Bayfront is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. Late Monday or early Tuesday, someone painted a red #MeToo on one of the nurse’s legs. The graffiti was quickly cleaned up early Tuesday. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.
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