A southern French town announced an investigation on Tuesday after a sculpture of a black man that commemorates the abolition of slavery was desecrated with Nazi graffiti and white paint.
The damage to the bust which dates from the 19th century and is located in a park in Pau, near the Pyrenees and close to the Spanish border, was discovered during a police patrol.
The word “Nazi” had been scrawled on the statue. It was cleaned immediately and a probe opened.
France’s overseas territories minister Ericka Bareigts condemned the vandalism, writing on Twitter that the memory of slavery must be respected.
French President Francois Hollande announced plans in May to establish a major foundation to fund a slavery memorial and museum in Paris.
The move was partly in response to frustration among members of France’s black community over what many consider the country’s overlooked involvement in the slave trade.