Virginia Arthur Ashe statue vandalized with ‘White Lives Matter’

By the time the Richmond police were alerted about the defacing, the paint was already being removed by volunteers

Arthur Ashe Monument
Arthur Ashe Monument (Image from Instagram courtesy of @DDotrock)

The statue of tennis legend, Arthur Ashe was vandalized this week with the words, “white lives matter,” and the letters, “WLM.”

The words were later painted over again, with the letters, “BLM.”

READ MORE: Protesters topple Jefferson Davis statue in Virginia capital

Richmond police were alerted to the vandalism early Wednesday morning and said the paint was already being removed by volunteers when they arrived. Richmond PD has said that they have a suspect in mind. The man who called himself, “Everybody,” has not been positively identified and a CrimeStoppers tip line has been set up.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of their reporters observed the man spray painting the statue. “Don’t all lives matter?” he said, when asked why he was defacing the monument, “I’m not a racist. I just don’t agree with people desecrating property.”

The statue of Ashe is the only sculpture of a Black person on Monument Avenue. A portion of the street was renamed in his honor. Ashe was an author and activist who died from AIDS in 1993 after a blood transfusion.

His nephew, David Harris said, “There are people who have an agenda,” he said. “Some of them are still settling on hate and discord because they see the system changing before them, and they’re lacking influence and control over it.”

The vandalism of the statue comes after civil unrest swept the country since the police killing of George Floyd. Statues of Confederate leaders have been coming down across the nation, including Virginia.

On Tuesday, protesters pulled down the Richmond Howitzers Monument, a structure erected in 1892 to commemorate a Confederate artillery unit.

READ MORE: Christopher Columbus statues beheaded in Boston, toppled in Richmond

Other statues torn down in Virginia were of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue, Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham in Monroe Park, and Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park.

One woman who witnessed the vandalism said, “Black lives have been significantly hurt by what Monument Avenue represents: systemic racism that existed before and after the Civil War.”

According to Instagram user @ddotrock, hours after the defacing, the community members gathered to restore the statue.

“They tried it but a few hours later, community members gathered to say ‘not today, Satan!’ and cleaned it up. Moments like this affirm why I love my city so damn much and help restore my faith.”

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