The disfigurement of Mahatma Gandhi's statue here was a "shame," said US President Donald Trump days after it was destroyed by unknown persons with graffiti and spray paints during nationwide protests against the murder of African American George Floyd.
The statue, which is opposite the Indian embassy, was destroyed in the night of June 2-3, which prompted the Indian embassy to file a complaint with local law enforcement agencies.
The incident occurred during the week of nationwide protests against Floyd's murder in Minneapolis on May 25.
"It was a shame," Trump said briefly in the White House on Monday when asked about the incident.
The Indian embassy here has raised the matter with the US State Department to investigate the matter early, as well as with the Metropolitan Police and the National Park Service.
It is working with the U.S. Department of State, the Metropolitan Police and the National Park Service to quickly restore the statue in the park.
The US President and First Lady Melania Trump had spent a lot of time at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad during their visit to India in February. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave them a tour of the historic site.
"The First Lady and I just had the pleasure of visiting Mahatma Gandhi's Ashram, a few miles from here, where he started the famous Salt March," Trump said during his speech at the Namaste Trump Rally at Motera Stadium on November 24 February in Ahmedabad. A day later, Trump and the First Lady also laid a wreath at Raj Ghat in New Delhi.
On the walls of the White House are pictures of Trump and the First Lady with Gandhi's spinning wheel during their visit to the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
Last week, leading U.S. lawmakers and the Trump campaign condemned the statue's destruction.
"Very disappointing," tweeted Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald J. Trump's advisor to President Inc. and National Chairman of the Trump Victory Finance Committees.
North Carolina senator Tom Tillis said, "It is a shame to see the blemish of the Gandhi statue in Washington DC."
"Gandhi was a pioneer of peaceful protest and demonstrated the great change it can bring. Unrest, looting and vandalism don't bring us together," he said.
Senator Marco Rubio said, "More evidence that violent radicals and crazies kidnapped legitimate protests to create anarchy or for their own ends."
Protests against Floyd's murder have become violent in the United States and prestigious monuments have been damaged. In Washington DC, protesters burned a historic church and damaged monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial.
US Ambassador to India Ken Juster apologized for the incident.
"I'm so sorry to see the dedication of the Gandhi statue in Wash, DC. Please accept our sincere apologies," he said.
"Horrified by the horrific death of George Floyd and the horrific violence and vandalism. We stand against prejudice and discrimination of any kind. We will recover and get better," he said in a tweet last week.
The statue of Gandhi, one of the few statues of a foreign leader in a state in Washington DC, was dedicated to the United States by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the presence of then-President Bill Clinton on September 16, 2000 during his state visit.