The Australian and Aboriginal flags flew on Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Australian and Aboriginal flags flew on Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is a representational image AFP / Wendell TEODORO

The colonial-era statue of controversial premiere Dr. William Crowther was found uprooted from its plinth with its legs sawn off in Hobart's Franklin Square.

The incident occurred a night before a ruling about the statue's removal was due. The incident came to light Wednesday morning when the statue was found lying face down next to its podium, which was spray-painted with graffiti such as "what goes around" and "decolonize," reported The Guardian.

Councilwoman Louise Elliot of Hobart City claimed that she reported the damaged monument as soon as she saw it and then went back to see how much further damage had been done. The downing of the statue came a day after someone attempted to saw through the statue's ankles.

Crowther, who was a politician and surgeon, had reportedly cut off and stole the skull of William Lanne, an aboriginal man, while his remains lay in wait for a funeral after he passed away in 1869 from a sickness. The skull was reportedly send it to the London's Royal College of Surgeons due to their desire to study Aboriginal skulls.

According to reports, the very unsettling act went against both Lanne's cultural values and his body.

Crowther had served as the premier of Tasmania for less than a year from 1878 to 1879, and in 1889 his statue was erected in Franklin Square.

The Hobart City Council authorized the statue's removal in 2022 after years of resistance from Indigenous organizations, who felt it was insulting. In the end, the tribunal agreed with the council's ruling despite an appeal brought by former council member Jeff Briscoe, who raised concerns about possible damage to the square's historical significance. Although they were aware of the possible harm to the square's historical and cultural elements, they ruled Wednesday that taking down the monument would have a "positive resulting impact."

Elliot, upset by the act of vandalism, relayed her concerns to the Chief Executive of the Council, who vowed to step up patrolling around the area.

"I expressed that increased patrols weren't enough," said Elliot, adding, "They [the vandals] were coming back, the job was nearly finished, and I was right."

Following the first incident, Michael Stretton, the chief executive of the council, revealed they did conduct an inquiry and looked into the CCTV evidence from Franklin Square.