Across the country, Confederate monuments are being vandalized as a national debate rages over the presence of the memorials.
Local reporters arriving at the Arizona state capitol in mid-August witnessed a man vandalizing a nearby Confederate monument.
The Confederate Troops Memorial at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza was spray-painted white on one side, with a white cross drawn on the bottom. The suspect, carrying two aerosol spray cans, was able to flee the scene before law enforcement arrived.
It was the second time the monument had been vandalized.
The same week that memorial was defaced, a statue on U.S. 60 dedicated to Jefferson Davis, president of the confederacy, was tarred and feathered by unknown assailants.
Around the country, Confederate statues have fallen victim to the same type of vandalism.
Memorials in Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee have been vandalized this month following the violent protests that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.
In North Carolina, the nose on a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Duke University was damaged. Another statue nearby was removed by protesters overnight.
Meanwhile, a Confederate statue outside a courthouse in Leesburg, Virginia was spray-painted with obscenities during the night.
Near the University of Tennessee’s campus, a statue honoring fallen Confederate soldiers was splattered with paint. Opponents are trying to have the monument, which was erected in 1914, removed from the neighborhood.
But even those who want Confederate statues removed have spoken out against vandalism.
“I think it’s absolutely irresponsible and non-productive. It does absolutely nothing to promote the cause of removing symbols of hate in the state when individuals take matters into their hands and vandalize state property,” said Arizona state Rep. Reginald Bolding, an African-American who is actively working to have Confederate monuments removed in the state.
Civil rights leaders are calling on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to remove monuments honoring Confederate soldiers. The governor, however, has deferred to the administrative process for their removal.
Unlike in Arizona, state governments around the country have taken steps to remove Confederate monuments.
Officials in California, Wisconsin, Texas, Washington state, Montana and Maryland have either removed Confederate statues or taken down symbols paying homage to the Confederacy.
While many people view Confederate monuments as a celebration of racism, others consider them historical artifacts.
A recent MSN poll revealed Americans are sharply divided on the issue.
Seventy-one percent of Democrats surveyed claimed they supported the removal of Confederate statues, while 87 percent of self-identified Republicans disagreed.
Keith Roberts, a member of the Arizona division of the Sons of Confederacy, believes Confederate statues are historical monuments.
“We in no way condone the actions of any racist or activist group, organization or activities,” Roberts said in a statement to Western Journalism. “We do however want to protect all historical, monuments, symbols, markers and remembrances whatever they represent. Our desire is to work with proper authorities to accomplish our objective.”
Like many others across the country, Roberts believes these monuments play a role in preserving history.
“We are a unique people such as the world has never seen. Comprised of a mix that includes almost every culture, ethnicity and religion in modern existence. Our history must be preserved if for no other reason by virtue of its uniqueness,” he said.
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source: Western Journalism