A statue depicting the famous photograph of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II was found vandalised with graffiti reading #MeToo. The #MeToo movement rose out of allegations of sexual harassment and violence.

The incident came a day after the sailor, George Mendonsa, died.

The statue called the “Unconditional Surrender” is located in Sarasota, Florida. The state police announced on Tuesday that they were searching for the unidentified vandals and have removed the graffiti.

Mendonsa who was a sailor in the US navy was photographed kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, who was wearing a nurse’s uniform, on August 14, 1945, the day Japan surrendered. The photograph was captured by Alfred Eisenstadt and later published in Life magazine. It became one of the most famous images of the 20th century.

Friedman, who died in 2016 at the age of 92, told an interviewer in 2005 that it was not a consensual kiss. “The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she had said. “It wasn’t much of a kiss,” she had recalled, according to BBC. “It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.”

Mendonsa in 2012 told CBS News: “It was the moment. You come back from the Pacific and finally, the war ends. The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks. So when I saw the nurse, I grabbed her and I kissed her.”

In 2014, an article in Time magazine said many people viewed the photo “as little more than the documentation of a very public sexual assault, and not something to be celebrated”.