RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police say the vandalism happened overnight or early Thursday morning.
Someone used black spray paint on the Jefferson Davis monument with a message that’s been used at protests and on confederate monuments across the country, “Black Lives Matter.”
“Of course they do. All life matters in my mind,” said Barry Isenhour with the Virginia Flaggers, a group formed to honor Confederate Veterans.
Isenhour says he doesn’t understand the debate over the flag or the monuments.
“They’re Americans and they’re veterans, and they had a disagreement over the kind of government we had, so that you can respect,” said Isenhour.
The graffiti comes days after an online petition was started asking Virginia lawmakers to remove the statues from Monument Avenue.
“A lot of African Americans in this city feel the same way that I feel regarding the statues, but a lot of people are afraid to speak up,” said Will Hall.
Hall started that petition. He says he never expected it to get so much attention, choosing not to show his face for the interview because of comments made online on our story about his petition.
“It’s a lot of racial tension and anything could happen to anybody right now,” said Hall.
Hall says he hopes that his efforts had nothing to do with the vandalism to the monument.
“Those statues are up there and they have a right to be up there. I believe that the statues should be removed but they should be removed in the right way,” said Hall.
Richmond Public Works used a power washer to try and remove the spray paint but were unable to get the writing off. Officials say if they increase the pressure of the washer it will damage the statue, so a professional contractor will have to be used to remove the spray paint.
The Virginia Flaggers say they’re offering a $1,000 reward to anyone that gives information to police leading to an arrest.