The vandalism in a mural by English footballer Marcus Rashford was “not believed to be of a racial nature”, police have said when they appealed to witnesses.
The artwork was attacked hours after England’s last European Championship defeat on Sunday, when Rashford and teammates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were subjected to racist abuse on social media.
The mural quickly became a colorful wall of tribute as people gathered in support of Rashford, and hundreds of people attended a demonstration against racism Tuesday night.
Greater Manchester police had investigated vandalism as potentially aggravated racially, but said on Friday that it did not believe graffiti was of a racial nature.
The force said it was continuing to investigate the motive for the attack, but no arrests had been made. It said: “Although the content of vandalism is not believed to be of a racial nature, officers keep an open mind as to the motive behind destroying the artwork.”
Officers have secured CCTV footage and are analyzing spray paint used for any forensic evidence, and the results are expected to be returned within a few weeks.
The word “fuck” was scraped over the huge work of art, and “shit” and “bastard” were also written next to the word “Sancho”.
Manchester-based street artist Akse, who painted the mural, saw the “unacceptable” graffiti shortly after midnight on Monday. He has since painted about his monochrome portrayal of the Manchester United player.
Supt Richard Timson, district chief of GMP’s City of Manchester division, said the vandalism had “terrified” officers and they “stand with the rest of society whose solidarity with this violent abuse since then has really shown the best of our town”.
He added: “The person responsible for this knows who they are and we believe that there will be others who also suspect the identity of this perpetrator and I therefore urge anyone who has such information, to get in touch to help our inquiries quickly. ”
The mural, painted in November as a tribute to Rashford’s work on child poverty, includes a quote from the footballer’s mother who raised him and his four siblings alone. “Be proud to know that your fight will play the biggest role in your purpose,” it reads.
A crowdfunder of Withington Walls, a community art project commissioning works of public art in the southern suburbs of Manchester, has raised more than £ 39,000 – well above its original goal – when it asked for help repairing the mural.