Police: Arthur Ashe mural in Richmond vandalized

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:42 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Police say the Arthur Ashe Mural in Richmond has been vandalized.

Around 10:42 a.m., officers responded to the 2800 block of Dupont Circle and found the tunnel and Arthur Ashe mural spray-painted with insignias associated with the white nationalist group, Patriot Front.

“Hate will not be tolerated in Richmond”, said Police Chief Gerald M. Smith. “We are asking for the public’s help by being another set of eyes on the murals and monuments of Richmond.”

Tamara Jenkins, Public Information Officer for Richmond Parks and Rec, says they were notified about it Thursday morning on social media and immediately sent paint crews over to cover the vandalism.

Jenkins also said they would be contacting the artist, Sir James Thornhill, to see if he can repaint it.

Richmond police said murals and monuments around the city will be monitored.

The much larger concern, for Jenkins and residents in the area, is the rather disturbing, racist undertones of the images.

“Why...why now...why this? Arthur Ashe is a Richmonder, he’s a part of our history and to have this mural just painted over is ridiculous,” Jenkins said.

Longtime resident of Battery Park, Jermaine O’Neil, says he could not believe his eyes when he saw the vandalism.

“This is really devastating,” O’Neil said. “Never in a million years would I ever think something like that would happen in this neighborhood, I’ve been here my entire life.”

O’Neil also manages the park as a recreation supervisor with Richmond Parks and Rec. He says it is a diverse community with people and families who embrace the mural.

“This is kind of a sacred ground residents in this community,” he said. “Arthur Ashe did a lot for and was a resident in this community, so for this to happen it just really hurt my heart.”

Mayor Levar Stoney also sent out the statement below:

“Today, a mural to Richmond’s beloved humanitarian and native son, Arthur Ashe, was found vandalized with the insignia of a white nationalist hate group. Those responsible for this, and other like-minded shameful and cowardly acts, will be held accountable. Let me be clear: Hate will not be tolerated in our city.”

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger took to Twitter to denounce the vandalism, saying “it has no place in Virginia or our country.”

RPD said this is the second mural to be vandalized this week. There was also a mural on a building along Meadowbridge Road that was defaced with similar markings.

There are no suspects at this time. The tunnel is still open to the public and is not locked.

Anyone with information should call police at (804) 646-5100 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

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