Duke statue resembling Robert E. Lee vandalized

A statue that resembles Confederate General Robert E. Lee has been vandalized, Duke University announced Thursday.

“The damage to the face of the statue was discovered early Thursday. Duke officials are investigating, including a review of video from inside the chapel. Security has been increased around the chapel as well,” the university stated.

While Duke President Vincent Price acknowledged that Americans need to “confront the darker moments in our nation’s history,” he also condemned the vandalism of the chapel.

“Each of us deserves a voice in determining how to address the questions raised by the statues of Robert E. Lee and others, and confront the darker moments in our nation’s history,” Price said in a statement.

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“For an individual or group of individuals to take matters into their own hands and vandalize a house of worship undermines the right, protected in our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, of every Duke student and employee to participate fully in university life,” he added.  

Price also noted that he began “consulting with students, faculty, alumni and others about the ways in which we can use this issue to teach, learn and heal.”

“Together – and only together – we will determine an appropriate course of action informed by our collective values,” the university president maintained.

According to Duke, the vandalized statue is one of several historical figures that resemble “the American South and the Protestant and Methodist traditions.”

The university also released a statement on the history of the controversial statue, detailing substantial internal debate in 1930s about whether it actually resembles the Confederate general.

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“The statue of Lee in particular was not well received. Objections were made that the statue did not resemble Lee, and that the belt buckle had been wrongly carved with the initials ‘U.S.,’” the university wrote.

Following additional discussion, university officials decided in 1932 that “these statues should be [seen as] decorative symbolic figures, and not as representing or to be known as representing any specified person.”

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