Statue of African-American tennis great Arthur Ashe vandalised with words ‘White Lives Matter’
A statue of African-American tennis legend Arthur Ashe on Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue has been vandalised with the words “White Lives Matter”.
- The words “white lives matter” and the initials “WLM” were painted on the statue
- It comes as multiple Confederate statues are being toppled across the US
- A statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee in Richmond is set to be removed
Photos show the base of the monument tagged with white spray paint and the words “White Lives Matter” as well as the initials “WLM”. Those initials were then later painted over with “BLM”.
Richmond Police said they were alerted to the vandalism around 10:15am on Wednesday (local time).
Police said red paint on the statue itself was already being cleaned off by community members.
Police said they had information on possible suspects and were asking the community to call their Crime Stoppers line if they had information on who was responsible for the vandalism.
The Arthur Ashe monument was dedicated in 1996 to memorialise the Richmond native and counterbalance the string of statues on Memorial Avenue dedicated to Confederate leaders.
The vandalism of the Ashe statue comes as multiple Confederate statues are being toppled, vandalised and slated for removal in the city during protests prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Concrete slabs placed around Lee statue
Concrete barriers have been installed around a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee that has been ordered for removal on Monument Avenue, hours after demonstrators tore down a different Confederate monument.
Governor Ralph Northam announced earlier this month that the statue would be removed and placed in storage while its future was determined. Lawsuits have been filed seeking to block the move.
The Virginia Department of General Services said it was erecting the barriers “to protect the safety of everyone speaking out to make their voices heard as well as the structure itself,” according to a statement from the agency.
The Lee statue, along with other monuments along the avenue and throughout the city, have been rallying points and sites of clashes with police during demonstrations that began more than two weeks ago following Mr Floyd’s death.
The addition of the barriers comes shortly after demonstrators in Richmond tore down another Confederate statue in the city, news outlets reported.
The Howitzers Monument located near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus was toppled after protesters who spent the night marching in the rain used a rope to pull it down from its pedestal.
The paint-splattered statue was seen face down on the ground as the rain continued overnight in Virginia’s capital city, according to a video from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Before its toppling, the Howitzers Monument showed a Confederate artilleryman standing in front of a gun. It was erected in 1892 to memorialise the city’s Civil War artillery unit, according to the Encyclopedia of Virginia.
It’s the third Confederate statue, and the fourth monument, to be torn down by demonstrators in Virginia.
Statues of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham, and Christopher Columbus have been toppled by demonstrators in recent weeks.