A statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond was splattered with pinkish-red paint and the letters “BLM” were painted on its base between late Friday and early Saturday, authorities said.

The vandalism of the Confederate general’s statue — one of five Confederate monuments in the state capital — comes about a week ahead of a white-nationalist rally set to take place in the District.

Joe Macenka, a spokesman for the Capitol Police, said the statue was probably hit with paint overnight with a weed sprayer or fire extinguisher in between police patrols. The incident is being investigated, although no arrests had been made.

The Capitol Police — who are also responsible for patrolling the Virginia statehouse — were alerted to the presence of the paint about 6 a.m. Saturday, when a cleaning crew was called to remove it, Macenka said. The statue was free of paint by about 4 p.m. Saturday.


Macenka said a “lion’s share” of the force’s 500 security cameras are installed around the Lee statue, although he declined to comment on whether the vandalism had been captured on video.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D), who has voiced his personal opposition to the city’s Confederate statues, condemned the incident in a statement through his spokesman.

“I don’t support the monuments but vandalism is a crime no matter where it takes place and the individual or individuals responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Stoney said in the statement.

Last month, a commission organized by Stoney to review Richmond’s row of Confederate statues suggested that a nearby monument of Confederate President Jefferson Davis be taken down. Although the commission resisted calls to remove the other statues — including the one of Lee — it recommended they be put into broader historical context.

Unlike Richmond’s other monuments, the figure of Lee is property of the state of Virginia.

Macenka said the “BLM” written on the statue was probably a reference to Black Lives Matter. The movement’s chapter in the D.C. and Virginia area did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.