Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Confederate Statues Vandalized on UT Campus

By Matthew Watkins, The Texas Tribune

Three statues at the University of Texas at Austin that commemorate Confederate leaders were vandalized overnight Monday, hours after the school's president met with student leaders to discuss whether they should be taken down.

The homages to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston were all tagged with the words "Black Lives Matter" in red spray paint. The Davis statue also contained the phrase "Bump All The Chumps."

Cleaning crews were on campus Tuesday morning trying to remove the paint while students walked by and snapped pictures on their phones.

The statues have been a source of controversy on the UT-Austin campus for years, and they have been targets of vandalism in the past. This spring, the elected student assembly voted to remove the Davis statue. And an online petition advocating for their removal garnered more than 1,500 signatures within 24 hours.

The Davis statue has been a particular target. He was the president of the Confederacy, and his statue has a prominent spot adjacent to one for Woodrow Wilson in front of the UT Tower plaza. The Lee and Johnston statues are nearby.

Calls for the removal of the statues picked up after the fatal shooting of nine people inside a black church in South Carolina last week. The shooting has sparked a debate across the South about old Confederate symbols.

New UT-Austin President Greg Fenves hasn't taken a stance, though he did meet with student leaders opposed to the statues Monday afternoon. A school spokesman called that meeting "productive," but no further announcement has been made.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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