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Charlottesville’s Confederate monuments vandalized amid pandemic

Photo credit: NBC29
Photo credit: NBC29(WHSV)
Published: May. 1, 2020 at 12:10 PM EDT
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Crews from the City of Charlottesville are working to clean up new vandalism to the city's most prominent Confederate monuments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overnight from Thursday into Friday, someone spray painted "the pandemic" on the bases of the monuments to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in downtown Charlottesville. Graffiti arrows point up to the statues themselves.

The vandalism was discovered Friday morning in Market Street and Court Square parks.

The statues have been vandalized numerous times in the last few years. This past December, two men

breaking through the orange barrier around the base of the statue of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in Court Square Park around 3:30 in the morning.

Activists have been pushing the city to remove the monuments since 2016, calling them racist. The General Assembly passed a bill this spring and Gov. Northam signed it into law

.

The law takes effect in July, but Charlottesville city leaders have yet to announce any next steps after their years-long effort to remove the city's statues, which led to deadly white supremacist rally in 2017 and several lawsuits.

The two statues have faced frequent vandalism over the past year, with the most recent around Thanksgiving, when the statues' pedestals had been spray painted with "Impeach Trump” and “This Is Racist”.

Granite was also chipped away at the decorative pedestals of both statues

and midway through October, when a piece of paper with "1619" was taped over a sign in front of the statue too. That followed a

when granite features were chipped away.

At that point, the noses were removed from two angelic icons on the base of the Jackson statue. Some of the toes on the female symbol had also been chipped off, while the sword in the hand of the male angel symbol appeared to have been broken.

Just days before that vandalism,

, referencing the year the first slaves came to Virginia. That was quickly scrubbed off the day afterward.

The Charlottesville Police Department is investigating all the cases of vandalism.

Virginia, a state that prides itself on its pivotal role in America's early history, is home to more than 220 public memorials to the Confederacy, according to state officials. Among those are some of the nation's most prominent — a collective of five monuments along Richmond's Monument Avenue, a National Historic Landmark.

Critics say the monuments are offensive to black Virginians because they romanticize the Confederacy and ignore its defense of slavery.

Others say removing the monuments amounts to erasing history.

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