A Chicago Blackhawks statue outside of the professional hockey team’s downtown arena was vandalized early Monday with splashes of bright paint across a likeness of the team’s mascot and an indigenous rights phrase near its base.
Photos of the vandalism were first posted on Twitter by an account with the username @zhigaagoong, which calls for “no racist mascots” in its account description. Local activists have said zhigaagoong is the indigenous name for Chicago.
The Twitter photos show different angles of splashed paint and phrases painted around its base. Among the slogans was “Land Back,” a rallying cry used by indigenous people to fight for land reclamation and protest against development projects.
The Chicago Police Department confirmed the incident, telling CNN “four offenders vandalized the property (statue) at the listed address with red paint.”
“The area has been cleaned already” and “no one is in custody,” the CPD said, adding that “detectives are investigating.”
The structure, which stands outside Chicago’s United Center, is “currently under a tarp for protection and will be sent off to be repaired in the near future,” the Blackhawks said in a statement to The Athletic.
CNN reached out to the team for comment but has yet to hear back.
The vandalism came on Columbus Day, which, in a number of states and cities – but not Chicago – is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some Illinois legislators have attempted to get the state to follow suit.
Lori Lightfoot, the city’s mayor, ordered a number of Columbus statues removed earlier this year but said she didn’t support canceling the holiday altogether.
A controversial logo
For years, the Blackhawks logo has been the subject of criticism and controversy and there have been growing calls for it to be abolished amid a wider national conversation on race.
Chicago’s American Indian Center said in a statement last year it would be cutting “professional ties with the Blackhawks, or any other organization that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
“We see this as necessary to sustain a safe, welcoming environment for members of our community as well as protecting our cultural identity and traditions,” the statement said.
While the Blackhawks said this summer they would stay committed to their name and logo – which is a nod to the iconic Native American war leader Black Hawk – the team did ban the wearing of headdresses inside the arena.
Other professional sports teams have faced similar calls to take action.
In July, the NFL’s Washington, DC, franchise decided to change its Redskins name and logo after what the team called a “thorough review.”
Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves meanwhile, are sticking with their team name, but are reviewing the fan’s “Tomahawk Chop” rallying cry.
CNN’s Aleks Klosok contributed to this story.