NASHVILLE, Tenn. (The Tennessean) -- A long-debated Nathan Bedford Forrest statue on private property off Interstate 65 in Nashville has been vandalized.

It was not immediately known what time the vandalism took place but it appears someone covered the controversial statue with red or pink paint.

It's not the first time the statue has drawn the public's attention.

Last fall someone placed sign that read, “Trump 2016, Make AMERIKKKA Great Again” on a fence on state right-of-way property near the statue.

State officials removed the sign shortly after.

A controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest statue on Interstate 65 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The 25-foot fiberglass statue, designed by the late sculptor and attorney Jack Kershaw, was erected on private land in 1998 near Crieve Hall. Kershaw was among a series of attorneys hired by James Earl Ray after being convicted of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

The statue has been a source of controversy in Nashville and occasional vandalism ever since it was built. The statue, surrounded by Confederate state battle flags, sits on a 3.5-acre property owned by Bill Dorris, a Nashville businessman.

Dorris could not be immediately reached for comment.

The crime comes on the heels of an ongoing fight over the bust of the former Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan which rests inside the state Capitol in Nashville. Several Tennessee leaders, including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Gov. Bill Haslam, have said the bust's location should be re-evaluated.

Last week in Memphis, the city removed Confederate statues from downtown parks after it sold two of the parks to a nonprofit.