A University of Virginia statue of Thomas Jefferson was vandalized with the words “RACIST + RAPIST” as the university commemorates the 275th anniversary of its founder’s birth.
The Washington Post reports that the words were spray-painted on the base of the statue on the university’s lawn and discovered Friday on Founder’s Day.
Virginia spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said “acts of vandalism do not contribute to meaningful discussion” as the university reckons with the complexities of the slave owning Founding Father’s legacy.
Statues of Jefferson on campus have been flash points in recent months. During last August’s deadly white nationalist rally, community members surrounded a statue to protect it as torch-bearing white supremacists circled them. The next month, community members shrouded a statue in black, with signs labeling Jefferson a racist and rapist.