A Greens staffer is among two women accused of defacing a statue of Captain Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
Xiaoran Shi, 28, and her friend Charmaine Morrison-Mills, 27, allegedly sprayed graffiti on the statue at about 4am on Sunday.
The pair were arrested near the park on College Street with a bag allegedly containing multiple spray cans.
They were charged with destroying or damaging property.
Shi runs the ‘Sniff Off’ campaign – which calls for an end to police sniffer dogs – in collaboration with New South Wales Greens MP David Shoebridge.
Scroll down for video
Xiaoran Shi (right with Greens MP David Shoebridge), 28, has been charged with defacing the Captain Cook statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park
She also works in his office on a part-time basis.
The 28-year-old has previously been the editor of the University of Sydney’s student newspaper Honi Soit, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Mr Shoebridge said Shi was not working for him at the time of the alleged vandalism and declined to comment further as the matter was before the courts.
‘I understand that one of the two people charged regarding the incident involved the statue in Hyde Park has part-time employment with my office,’ he said.
‘They were not engaged in employment at the time of the incident which occurred well outside of work hours.
Both women were refused bail to appear at Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday.
The statue depicts the British explorer whose voyage to Australia in 1770 mapped the country’s east coast ahead of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
Shi’s friend Charmaine Morrison-Mills, 27, (pictured) has also been charged with vandalising the statue about 4am on Sunday
Police were alerted to the alleged vandalism at the statue and arrested the pair nearby on College Street in the CBD
The busts of Australian prime ministers in Ballarat were sprayed with red paint on Saturday morning – sparking a police investigation
It comes as Victorian police investigate the defacing of statues in Ballarat.
The statues of former Australian prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard were sprayed with red paint on Saturday morning.
They have since been covered and fenced off and a conservator will assess the damage on Monday.
A Captain James Stirling statue in Perth, Western Australia was on Friday also defaced and a 30-year-old man charged with criminal damage or destruction of property.
The two women were taken to Day Street police station, where they were charged with destroy or damage property and possession of graffiti implement (New South Wales police stand guard around a statue of Captain Cook in Hyde Park on June 12)
The statue’s neck and hands were painted red and an Aboriginal flag was painted over the inscription at the base.
Historical monuments across the world have been toppled over the past two weeks as Black Lives Matter protesters march through the streets to call out racism following the death of African American man George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
In Australia, people have defied public health warnings amid the COVID-19 pandemic and turned out to protest indigenous deaths in custody and to rally in support of the BLM movement in Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne.