Police in Oslo have launched an investigation after the memorial to Benjamin Hermansen, who was murdered by three members of the neo-Nazi group The Boot Boys in a racially motivated attack in 2001, was found to have been vandalised.
The statue of Hermansen, who was 15 when he was killed, was vandalised with the message “Brevik was right”, a reference to the July 22nd terror attacks carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik in 2011.
The vandalism was discovered by Johannes Dvorak Lagos in Holmlia, Oslo, while on a walk near his home at midday Tuesday.
Lagos posted a picture of the vandalism to Twitter, describing it as “reprehensible”.
— Johannes Dvorak Lagos (@johanneslagos) July 20, 2021
The graffiti was discovered two days before the tenth anniversary of the July 22nd terror attacks, in which 77 people were killed.
Brevik carried out two separate attacks on July 22nd, a bomb in Oslo aimed at killing then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and a mass shooting at the AUF youth camp on Utøya island.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Labour Leader Jonas Gahr Støre have both condemned the incident.
“It is absolutely awful to see that the Benjamin Hermansen memorial at Homlia has been vandalised just before July 22nd. It makes me sad and furious, and this shows how important it is that we stand up to racism and hate speech every single day,” Solberg said in a tweet.
Det er helt forferdelig å se at Benjamin Hermansen-minnesmerket på Holmlia har blitt tagget ned rett før 22. juli. Jeg blir lei meg og forbannet, og dette viser hvor viktig det er at vi hver eneste dag står opp mot rasisme og hatprat.
— Erna Solberg (@erna_solberg) July 20, 2021
“Benjamin’s memorial has been vandalised with references to the July 22nd terrorist. On the same day as the Eid celebrations begin. It’s reprehensible, and it shows that dangerous attitudes still circulate among us. The police have to take this seriously, and together we have to speak out and oppose this type of behaviour,” Labour Leader Støre wrote on Twitter.
Benjamins minnesmerke tagget ned med referanse til 22. juli terroristen. På dagen Id-feiringen starter. Det er forkastelig. Viser at farlige holdninger fortsatt sirkulerer. Politiet må ta på alvor. Og sammen må vi si i fra og si i mot.
— Jonas Gahr Støre (@jonasgahrstore) July 20, 2021
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime in addition to vandalism, police said.
“The Oslo Police district is taking the case very seriously, and an investigation has been established. The investigation will also include the penal provisions for hate crime,” law enforcement said in a statement.
Raymond Johansen, Oslo’s executive mayor, said that right-wing extremism needs to be addressed.
“The person or persons who have done this have the same mindset as the neo-Nazis who killed Benjamin and the attitudes behind July 22nd. This shows that there is a need to discuss these attitudes,” Johansen told newspaper VG.
The graffiti was removed by 1:30 pm on Tuesday.