A painting depicting Mother Teresa along with the founder of Planned Parenthood and other historical figures was vandalized Wednesday at a library in Trumbull, Connecticut, during a meeting to discuss the fate of the artwork.
Police said they are searching for a woman who was seen near the painting during the meeting. After she left the library, people noticed purple markings across the face of Margaret Sanger.
“I heard commotion in the main library. I went outside to see what was going on. Two of the employees at the main circulation desk advised me that the painting had been defamed,” First Selectman Timothy Herbst said.
"Onward We March," a painting by artist Robin Morris, shows Mother Teresa and other women, including Abigail Adams, Gloria Steinem and Clara Barton, marching, holding signs with messages including "Planned Parenthood," "Mission of Charity," "Feed the Poor," "Remember The Ladies," "Hospital Reform" and "Right to Vote," among others.
It’s been on display at the public library for months as part of the “Great Minds” exhibit, but last week, Trumbull officials temporarily removed it after organizations raised concerns that the painting depicted Mother Teresa in the same image as Sanger, who fought to legalize birth control.
Last week, Herbst said the town opted to remove the painting because the library lacked a written agreement with Resnick to protect the town against "any potential liability" from a copyright violation allegation.
The ACLU also weighed in on the issue, raising constitutional concerns about the decision to order the removal of a painting and said it was taken down amid pressure from the Catholic fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus and its supporters.
The painting has since gone back up, but it has marks scrawled across Sanger’s face.
Police said they are looking for a woman in her mid-30s, with dark hair, who was near the painting. She reached into her bag and waved her arms around the painting before leaving the library.
Town leaders said they want to ensure whoever is responsible isn’t able to do something like this again.
“I think we have to make sure that we bring the person to justice who did this. They need to be held accountable. They vandalized property in a public building,” Herbst said.
The painting is worth an estimated $10,000, but no estimate was immediately available on the damage to it.
Anyone with information is asked to call Trumbull Police at 203-261-3665.