Vandals have defaced the white marble statue "Serenity" in Meridian Hill Park in Columbia Heights, slapping black paint and garish red smile on the statue that is listed in the catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Locals who use the park, which is also known as Malcolm X Park, are shocked, News4's Chris Gordon reports.
"It's very disappointing," said Erika Castillo, who works near the park. "This park, it's beautiful, and to have this happen -- it's a family park -- it's disappointing."
The cracks in the statue's base, the loss of her hand and nose all happened a long time ago. But the spray paint is new.
"I think it needs to be changed immediately," said Artonique Nelson, who lives near the park. "It's just defacing the property here."
The park is known as a place to bring children, play football or eat lunch on a sunny day. Brian Harper and Brian Tibaldo traveled to Washington from Minneapolis to be married in the park because they had heard that it was beautiful.
"Getting married in the nation’s capital was very important to me, and it just seemed like a serene location, not very touristy, kind of in the mix of the neighborhoods here --a pretty place," Harper said.
The National Park service says the vandalism occurred April 15. And they have a solution in mind.
"We've got a plan in place: later this week we're going to use a solution that is used for graffiti removal," said Mike Johnson of the National Park Service. "It is the beginning of the spring season. We do come out of the winter hibernation and start getting the parks ready."
And when that happens, the smile on the statue will no longer be painted on -- but display the serenity her sculptor intended.