COPENHAGEN — A statue of a Danish-Norwegian colonizer in Greenland’s capital Nuuk was marked with red paint and the word “decolonize” on Sunday.
The incident comes as statues and monuments around the world are being reconsidered in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and is a reminder of the tensions between Greenland’s mostly Indigenous Inuit residents and former colonial power Denmark.
It also comes less than a year after U.S. President Donald Trump offered to buy the vast island.
The statue of Hans Egede, a missionary whose arrival in Greenland in 1721 marked the beginning of the island’s colonial era, was marked in the early hours of Greenland’s National Day, police said.
Pictures of the statue posted on social media drew hundreds of mostly approving comments.
“Inuit are constantly silenced and never given the opportunity to process the traumas that have been passed down for generations,” Paninnguaq Lind Jensen, who runs a traditional Inuit tattoo shop in Nuuk, wrote on Facebook.
Greenland, home to 56,000 people, was a Danish colony until 1953 when it became a formal part of the Nordic kingdom.
In 2009, Greenland achieved broad self-governing autonomy, including the right to declare independence from Denmark.
Greenlanders are divided over how soon the island nation should become independent, given its current economic dependence on Denmark, but polls show a majority support independence as a long-term goal.
Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen.