A Confederate statue in the Duke University Chapel of Gen. Robert E. Lee has been ordered to be removed by the university’s president Vincent Price after students make it clear they don’t want the monument up. The decision to remove the statue of the former Confederate general comes shortly after it was defaced on Wednesday. This also happened not long after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia last week where controversy erupted over the removal of another statue of General Lee.
The university’s president wrote a letter on Duke’s website saying, “I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university.”
He continued, adding, “Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates. We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination; to civil protest, not violence; to authentic dialogue, not rhetoric; and to empathy, not hatred.”
However, the statue of Robert E. Lee will be preserved so that “students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future.”
Eight people have also been arrested near Duke University’s Durham campus for toppling down a Confederate statue on Monday. The statue was placed outside of the Durham county courthouse. The Durham County Sheriff’s office says they expect more arrests as the case progresses.
The tragic events in Charlottesville last week has clearly caused a domino effect of Confederate statues being taken down, as recently New Orleans has taken down four Confederate monuments. So far more than 60 Confederate monuments have been taken down across the U.S., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.