Monument debate still boils in Richmond amid statue vandalism

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:20 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 at 6:33 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Police Department is searching for the person who vandalized the Jefferson Davis statue overnight.

Early Tuesday morning, the word "racist" was spotted on the statue, which is at Monument Avenue and North Davis Avenue.

Taxpayers have already spent $13,000 in removing graffiti from the Confederate monuments in the last two years.

Police are still looking for the suspect, who faces a misdemeanor charge, since the work cost more than $500 to safely remove the spray paint. That said, the contentious issue underlying the vandalism still remains.

"It's a cry out of how some people are feeling," said Rasheed Wright, who stopped to look at the monument.

The vandalism came on the same day a city committee was set to review a proposal to remove Confederate statues, but that meeting was postponed, city officials said in an email Tuesday morning.

Councilman Mike Jones proposed in late September that City Council should remove all Confederate monuments in Richmond.

Another group tasked with finding a solution, the Monument Avenue Commission, is slated to meet next month.

Protestors in support of the monuments have met every afternoon for the last seven weeks, at the steps below the Jefferson Davis statue. They continue to say the monuments are about "heritage and not hate," insisting the main reasons for the Civil War didn't include slavery.

"People do not know the complex history of any of these men, who are on the monuments on Monument Avenue. And they also do not understand that they are important to American history," said Teresa Roane, one of the demonstrators, who is also an African American woman.

Wright says he doesn't support the monuments, but questions the real problem at hand.

"The underlying issue is what we really need to be talking about," said Wright. "As far as representing who we are and where we want to go as a country, I don't think (the statues) represent that at all."

The Monument Avenue Commission will meet Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m., at the Library of Virginia. The public is invited to attend, but there will not be an open comment period.

Anyone with information about Tuesday's vandalism, which was first spotted just after 12:30 a.m., should call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

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