A statue honoring Confederate Civil War veterans at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was vandalized over the weekend, multiple news outlets reported on Sunday.
The Silent Sam statue, which was erected in 1913 as a monument to the UNC alumni who died in the Civil War, was found spray-painted with the phrases “black lives matter,” “KKK,” and “murderer” on Sunday morning, according to CBS Raleigh affiliate WRAL.
The school’s associate vice chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs, Rick White, condemned the vandalism in a Sunday statement.
“We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful. Carolina is working hard to ensure we have a thoughtful, respectful and inclusive dialogue on the issue,” White said in the statement, according to WRAL. “The extensive discussions with the Carolina community this past year by the Board of Trustees and University leadership, and the work we will be doing to contextualize the history of our campus is a big part of advancing those conversations. We welcome all points of view, but damaging or defacing statues is not the way to go about it.”
The Chapel Hill Police Department did not receive complaints about vandalism on the statue on Sunday, according to Durham newspaper The Herald Sun. North Carolina TV station WXII reported that authorities were investigating the vandalism and that no arrests had yet been made on Sunday.
The graffiti on the statue was covered by Sunday afternoon, ABC Raleigh affiliate WTVD reported.
— AngelicaAlvarezABC11 (@AlvarezABC11) July 5, 2015
The statue has been a source of controversy on campus for a while, and a statue honoring slaves was built in 2005 “in part to act as a voice to counter the negative connotations of the Confederate Monument,” according to UNC’s “virtual museum.”
Trustees at UNC in May decided to rename the school’s Saunders Hall, named after William Saunders, a Confederate officer and Ku Klux Klan leader.