Crews cleaning vandalism off Charlottesville's Confederate statues

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV/WVIR) — Cleaning crews for the city of Charlottesville were out on Monday morning to clear the latest vandalism to the city's statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Graffiti around the base of the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville | Credit: WVIR

Staff with the Departments of Parks and Recreation was at Market Street Park, working to scrub the paint off the pedestal of monument.

On Thanksgiving, around 8 p.m., police were called out to Market Street Park for a report of vandalism.

The pedestal of the Lee statue had been spray painted with "Impeach Trump” and “This Is Racist”.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall" Jackson, in Court Square Park, was also spray painted with “This Is Racist” on both sides of its pedestal at some point during the weekend.

Tarps were used to cover the graffiti over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

It was just the latest in a recent spree of vandalism to both the Lee statue and the Jackson statue, both at the center of a long-ongoing lawsuit after the city voted to remove them in 2017.

As a part of that lawsuit, a judge concluded that both statues are war memorials under Virginia law, so vandalism of the statues is a serious offense, carrying up to a year in jail or even up to five years in prison, depending on the value of damage to the statue.

Crime Stoppers is currently offering a reward for anyone who has information that leads to an arrest for the vandalism of the Lee statue or the Jackson statue. That number is 434-977-4000.

Granite has also been chipped away at the decorative pedestals of both statues in late October 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 similar incident in September 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, someone spray-painted '1619' on the statues, 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.

A judge has prevented the city's efforts to remove both statues amid ongoing litigation.