It has just been revealed that a statue of First Lady Melania Trump was set on fire on July 5 in her hometown of Sevnica in central Slovenia.
Slovenian Police told CNN that they are investigating the case, which they consider to be “damage to property which is a criminal offense.” The statue has since been removed after the vandalism.
Brad Downey, the artist who commissioned the statue, explained that he made the piece in July of 2019 as part of an ongoing project that includes a short documentary film. Downey said that he has asked locals not to take photos of the scorched figure so it did not become a “violent meme.”
Though Downey filed a police report, he said he just wants to know who did it, even though he does not intend to press charges.
“I would be curious to see who did it,” he explained. “Someone doesn’t like what it represents or how it looks, said Downey, who believes that the timing of the attack — on the weekend of US Independence Day — means it was not a random ‘drunken act,'” CNN reported.
Downey also took to Instagram to share a video of the statue being removed.
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Downey explained that he had been inspired to create the statue because of what he called the “anti-immigration narrative” coming out of the U.S. He sees it as a contradiction that President Donald Trump is married to an immigrant yet is against various types of immigration.
The artist also said that locals were proud of the project, despite the media reporting that it had divided them. “They’ve been nothing but supportive,” he said. “They were really proud of this thing.”
Downey went on to say that he is currently figuring out an artistic response to the attack. “I’ll probably try to do something in that location,” he said, adding that the “deeply burned” original statue has been placed in storage.
Sevnica is a small town of just 5,000 people that has become a tourist destination since Melania became First Lady. The town sells a wide variety of Melania-themed products such as honey, chocolate and cake.