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'White Lives Matter' spray-painted across Arthur Ashe statue in Richmond

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 13:13:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police are investigating after someone spray-painted "White Lives Matter" across the Arthur Ashe statue along Monument Avenue in Richmond. Police said they have information on possible suspects.

Ashe, a Richmond-born tennis star and humanitarian, was the first Black man to win U.S Open and Wimbledon titles.

His monument was dedicated on Monument Avenue in 1996, three years after his death, to memorialize the Richmond native and counterbalance the string of statues on Memorial Avenue dedicated to Confederate leaders.

Wednesday's incident at the Ashe statue comes after weeks of Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality both in Richmond and around the country.

Statues along Monument Avenue honoring Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis have either been spray painted or toppled during the protest.

Concrete barriers were installed around the Lee statue on Wednesday morning.

The Virginia Department of General Services said it was erecting the barriers to protect the safety of demonstrators and the structure.

The action came shortly after protesters toppled the Howitzers Monument located near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus on Tuesday.

It was the third Confederate statue, and the fourth monument, to be torn down by demonstrators in Virginia following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said the state would take down the Lee statue.