— Pete Santilli (@PTSantilli) July 12, 2015
What’s more upsetting: finding graffiti on a memorial in your favorite public park or going to said public park and seeing a memorial dedicated to the man who led Confederate troops to keep African Americans in a permanent state of human bondage?
This summer, at least, it depends on who you ask and which textbooks they’ve been reading.
Dallas residents are the latest to wrestle with those questions after a towering monument in Lee Park to Robert E. Lee was spray-painted with a single word on Friday: “Shame.”
“This criminal act creates alarm, not dialogue, and the entire community is a victim because this park is a peaceful, urban oasis,” Rick Ericson, a spokesman for the Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy, which maintains the park, said a statement released Friday, according to ABC affiliate WFAA. “We have begun the repairs and are installing additional security measures immediately.”
The vandalism occurred within hours of the Confederate battle flag’s removal from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse and during a series of weeks in which Confederate memorials around the country have been criticized and defaced.
On the University of Texas campus in Austin last month, two statues — one memorializing Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and another devoted to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America — were defaced. The Davis statue was targeted last month as well with the words “Davis must fall” and “Emancipate UT,” according to the Associated Press.
Cindy Posey, spokeswoman for campus security at the university, told the AP that “Black Lives Matter” was also scrawled on the base of a statue of Robert E. Lee there, as well.
RT keyetv "RT AdamHammonsKEYE: And Robert E. Lee statue vandalized as well. That's three statues spray painted ove… pic.twitter.com/R5rp08slKO"
— Austin Fox. UT (@myfoxaustin) June 23, 2015
The Dallas sculpture, which shows Lee, the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia, on horseback alongside a young soldier, has stood since 1936 and is considered the city’s preeminent memorial to the Confederate cause, according to the Dallas Morning News. The sculpture was created by artist A. Phimister Proctor, according to CBS 11 News.
Utterly disgraceful & historically ignorant RT 'Shame' written across Robert E. Lee statue in Dallas http://t.co/SJ2dQ0aEzk
— Alan McLean (@anythingbutdem) July 12, 2015
After recent protests aimed at removing the monument, the Dallas Morning News reported that the conservancy said it supports “open dialogue, peaceful debate and level-headed reflection on this issue and others like it. Many people across the country are engaged in these discussions, and we believe it’s a healthy debate to have, even if it’s difficult.”
The Dallas Chapter of the NAACP has asked Mayor Mike Rawlings to consider removing names of Confederate loyalists from schools, municipal buildings, cemeteries and local parks, according to CBS.
Arthur Fleming, the Dallas NAACP president, told CBS he does not support defacing Confederate memorials.
“The NAACP is against any act of vandalism of any monuments or structures of any type,” he said. “We won’t condone any of that.”