Arthur Ashe Statue in Virginia Vandalized With ‘White Lives Matter’

A monument to the black tennis legend Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Va., was vandalized with spray paint that learn “WLM” and “White Lives Matter” on Wednesday.

Mr. Ashe, a Richmond native, grew to become the primary black man to win Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open. His statue is on the town’s Monument Avenue, a residential avenue that extends for 5 miles into Henrico County and is dotted with plenty of outstanding Confederate monuments.

Passers-by stated they noticed a person in a blue T-shirt, darkish pink baseball cap and American flag bandanna spray paint “WLM” on the pedestal of the statue.

“We heard spray can rattling as we walked around the monument,” stated Betsy Milburn, 45, who was strolling alongside the avenue along with her good friend Fatima Pashaei.

As Ms. Milburn and Ms. Pashaei turned to the person, whose face was partially lined by his bandanna, he spoke to them.

“He said ‘You guys tagged my statue so I am tagging your statue,’” Ms. Milburn stated. The man then walked to a white automotive and drove off, she stated.

Someone additionally spray painted “BLM” for Black Lives Matter in pink over the preliminary “WLM” graffiti. Volunteers cleaned the monument, and all the “White Lives Matter” graffiti was eliminated earlier than the tip of the day.

Virginia has seen over two weeks of protests in opposition to racism and police brutality, similar to every other state in the country. Demonstrators were motivated by the death of George Floyd, a man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

On Tuesday night, protesters tore down the Howitzers Monument near Monroe Park campus, part of Virginia Commonwealth University. The monument was the third Confederate statue to be torn down by protesters in the state.

A woman who lived near Mr. Ashe’s statue arrived with cleaning supplies on Wednesday, and Ms. Milburn and Ms. Pashaei took turns cleaning the graffiti off the statue.

The man in the blue T-shirt came back later with a white cloth and tried to clean off the pink “BLM” letters.

“Why is it OK to spray paint on this statue ‘Black Lives Matter’ and not ‘White Lives Matter’? What’s the difference?” the man asked the women as they scrubbed the pedestal, according to a video shared by Ms. Milburn. “I’m not a racist, I just don’t agree with desecrating our property.”

The man told bystanders that he grew up in Richmond and that he attended a local high school. When asked his name, he replied, “Everybody.”

“Everybody that is here that has property value, everybody here that has paid to live here and is tired of seeing this,” the man said on the video, using expletives.

He then drove off as the women continued to clean the pedestal.

“I’m not sure why he felt the need to desecrate the one black statue on Monument Avenue,” Ms. Pashaei said in an interview Wednesday. “These Confederate generals might all be dead, but their foot soldiers are still alive and active here in Richmond.”

By the time Mr. Ashe’s nephew David Harris Jr. arrived at the statue, someone had cleaned the “WLM” and left “BLM,” he said. Mr. Harris had received several calls alerting him to the vandalism.

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