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Melania Trump sculpture in Slovenia set on fire on the Fourth of July

As the U.S. celebrated its Independence Day and President Trump vowed to punish those who destroy U.S. monuments, a life-sized sculpture of first lady Melania Trump was burned near her hometown in Slovenia, the Reuters news agency reported. 

Brad Downey, the Berlin-based American artist who commissioned the sculpture, told Reuters that police told him what happened the day following the incident. The wooden sculpture, he told Reuters, was blackened and disfigured.

"I want to know why they did it," Downey said. He told Reuters that he had hoped the sculpture of Mrs. Trump would spark conversation about political issues in the U.S., namely regarding immigration. Downey said he filed a police report and is hoping to interview the person or people who burned the sculpture for a film he is working on.

A statue of first lady Melania Trump in Slovenia was taken down on July 5, 2020, after police found that it had been burned and disfigured. Reuters

Police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik told Reuters that the investigation is ongoing, "so we cannot reveal details to the interest of further procedures."

The wooden sculpture of Mrs. Trump was unveiled just a year earlier. The installation depicts Melania as she was on President Donald Trump's inauguration day — wearing her light blue coat and waving her left hand at onlookers.

The sculpture, carved in a living linden tree trunk with a chainsaw, was originally met with mixed opinions by locals. One resident told Reuters in 2019 that the Melania depicted in the sculpture "does not look as beautiful as she normally is," while another local told BBC News that it looked like "Smurfette." 

A wooden structure appearing to mock President Donald Trump near Kamnik, Slovenia, was found burned to the ground in January. Reuters

Sculptures of Mr. Trump have also been damaged. In January, a nearly 26-foot statue of Mr. Trump was burned to the ground in Slovenia, according to The Associated Press. The statue apparently depicted Mr. Trump with a blue suit, white shirt and a red tie. He's shown with his right fist thrust into the air, and there's a mechanism that opens his mouth to show shark-like teeth. 

On July 3, Mr. and Mrs. Trump celebrated at Mount Rushmore, where Mr. Trump announced an executive order to create a "National Garden of American Heroes" that will feature statues "of the greatest Americans to ever live."

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