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USA TODAY Network journalists across the country documented protests denouncing police brutality and racial bias in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. USA TODAY

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The vandalism of a Black Lives Matter mural that was painted on the street in front of Vermont’s statehouse is under investigation, police said.

Hundreds gathered Saturday in Montpelier to paint the mural, which said “Black Lives Matter” in yellow letters. But Montpelier police say the painting was smeared with mud, dirt and oil early on Sunday, and graffiti was sprayed on the sidewalk nearby.

A photo released by police shows graffiti with messages including “$400 million gone” and “Put it back call Trump.” A statement from police says the graffiti “referenced government spending” but did not appear to be directed at the mural.

Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, who was among those who helped with the painting, condemned the vandalism. She said officials are working to restore the mural and authorities are trying to identify the perpetrators.

“While it is easy to be disgusted and angered by the vandalism of these anonymous cowards, for me their actions reinforce the need to address head-on the racism and white supremacy right here in our communities,” Johnson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The mural was similar to others that have been painted near the White House in Washington and in other cities. It had been approved by the city council and supported by Gov. Phil Scott.

Vermont’s mural was organized in less than a week amid protests nationwide sparked by the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

More: Black Lives Matter sign erected by South Burlington middle school students vandalized

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