*This story has been updated
The statue glorifying Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which sits on Monument Ave. in Richmond, was vandalized in the early hours of the morning. Dark red paint was splashed all over the plinth of the statue with the letters BLM written on the base – seemingly an acronym for the group Black Lives Matter.
Two capitol police officers were present at the statue, but declined to comment on when they arrived on the scene. However, RVA Mag spoke to Joe Macenka, the public information officer for the Capitol Police – who patrol and manage the security of state property, including the statue of Lee. Macenka said the department was notified shortly after 6 a.m., and the incident likely took place in-between one of their patrols. While not commenting on the particulars of the investigation, he said they were following a “number of angles.”
RVA Mag also spoke with an employee for the Department of General Services who was present at the scene to oversee the cleaning crew, who said he was called at 7:30 a.m. alerting him to what happened. At 9:30 a.m. the cleaning crew had not started power washing the statue, saying they were still waiting for the investigators to arrive.
Richmond’s Confederate statues are vandalized frequently, with Jefferson Davis being spray painted twice in the past year. This comes at a time of contentious conversation surrounding the role of Confederate statues in public spaces and the finalization of a report by Richmond’s Monument Ave Commission, which recommended that Davis’ statue be removed.
The Capitol Police reached out to RVA Mag at 1:30 p.m. to suggest that the paint used to vandalize the statue came from a “high pressured sprayer” or a refillable fire extinguisher.