RICHMOND, Va. -- A group of volunteers packed their cleaning supplies and made their way to Monument Avenue to get rid of the profanity spray-painted on the monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Sunday morning.
"The statues if they leave, they're gone -- fine," Matthew Davis with VHUA & Strength and Unity of Virginia said. "But the thing is, kids are out here and they see the profanity -- that we don't like that. We see the profanity and its time for us to make a clean up."
The monument's statue was toppled by protesters last month. The remains were placed in an undisclosed location with other statues, some downed by protesters and others removed by city crews following weeks of protests after the death of George Floyd.
Richmond resident Jovonni Armstead-Tucker was out for her morning walk from Jackson Ward to Monument Avenue when she spotted the clean up.
"To come here today and see them whitewash all of that empowering feeling away created great concern," Armstead-Tucker said.
Many people passed by, some glad to see the graffiti gone while others expressed concern.
"You are not only disrespecting this movement, hugely, you're not allowing it to have the moment it needs to sit with the neighbors," a Monument Avenue resident said.
The clean up efforts sparked a heated discussion, which both sides said was very emotional.
"It's sad... everybody's hurt," Davis said. "You know the people are hurt the community is hurt. Everybody's hurt, but this is not the way to do things."
"I think that if you have five people on one hand that says, 'Leave this.' And five people on the other hand that says, 'Don't leave this here,'" Armstead- Tucker said. "You get those ten people together and you sit down and you have a conversation."
A conversation both the volunteer group and Armstead-Tucker decided to have with more people, regardless of where they stand.
"He wants to bring people who feels how he do and I want to bring people the way that I do and merge them," Armstead- Tucker said. "We're not trying to change minds. We're trying to make sure you understand and that's what were gonna do."