The mural inspired by the author Maya Angelou is on the corner of Dundela Avenue and the Belmont Road.
A vibrant mural of an American novelist and civil rights activist in east Belfast has been defaced with racist graffiti.
The mural, inspired by the author Maya Angelou, is based on the corner of Dundela Avenue and the Belmont Road in the east of the city.
The artwork features an image of Ms Angelou, with the words “we may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated” written along the wall.
A number of racist messages were reported to have been daubed over the mural on Tuesday, while the image of the poet was defaced.
The incident has been condemned by local politicians in the area, while the community affixed a number of posters on the mural celebrating diversity and covering up the racist graffiti.
The incident comes on the back of hundreds of messages being left on a mural of England footballer Marcus Rashford, after a Manchester artwork of the footballer was also vandalised.
Claire McCann, a local east Belfast resident who reported the incident on social media, described the defacing of the mural as “thoroughly depressing”.
The Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said: “Absolutely awful to see this. Such an uplifting piece of art destroyed by those who want to drag us down with racism and hatred. So sad. Hope it can be restored.”
The 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ author passed away in 2014, after a life marked by campaigning for civil rights in the United States of America.
Alliance Councillor Michelle Kelly added: “This mural was about creating hope and inspiring all those who saw it, yet the actions of a minority has brought the cruel sting of racism back into our society.
“The past few days have witnessed another defining moment in the fight against racism, following the vicious attacks on three England footballers. As a society we must be actively anti-racist, to shine a light on any behaviour that falls short of acceptable.
“For those behind this incident locally I would urge them to really think about their behaviour and the pain and suffering their split second action will have caused others.
“I utterly condemn this hate-fuelled incident and would urge anyone with information to contact the PSNI as soon as possible.”
In a statement, the PSNI said: “At approximately 12.30 today (Tuesday) we received a report that racist graffiti had been painted on a mural on a wall at the corner of Dundela Avenue and the Belmont Road in east Belfast.
“This criminal damage is being treated as a hate crime, at this time.
“Officers have been in the area carrying out enquiries, and I would encourage anyone with information to contact police on 101, quoting reference 960 13/07/21.”
“A report can be submitted online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/.
“You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/.”