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Statue defaced as US Confederate monument protests grow

  • Published at 06:43 pm August 18th, 2017
Statue defaced as US Confederate monument protests grow

A statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee was defaced at North Carolina's Duke University and there were more arrests on Thursday over the toppling of a similar statue as communities in the US South faced a contentious debate over such divisive monuments.

The discovery came as President Donald Trump stoked the controversy over the statues, echoing white nationalists by decrying the removal of what he said were "beautiful" monuments to the pro-slavery Confederacy.

The statue of Lee at the Duke Chapel in Durham, North Carolina, was found early on Thursday with its nose and other facial features chipped off, the university said in a statement. Lee led the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

The university said that surveillance camera footage was being reviewed for clues as to who was behind the attack on the statue, which stands by the chapel entrance. Security around the site is also being stepped up.

A fresh debate over Confederate symbols has roiled the US since Saturday's violence during a protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of a Lee statue in which one woman died.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer is due to make an announcement on Friday about the statue, public safety at future events, and the legacy of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed, Signer's office said in a statement.

Pro-slavery statue removed

Meanwhine, authorities in Maryland on Friday removed a statue of a 19th century Chief Justice who wrote the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision in the latest example of action over memorials that have sparked protests across the US.

Crews in state capital Annapolis hitched straps overnight to the 145-year-old bronze statue outside State House and lifted it from its base with a crane, according to media reports and social media postings.

"While we cannot hide from our history, nor should we, the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history," Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement on Wednesday.

Chief Justice Roger Taney's landmark 1857 decision said: "The negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit." Legal scholars say it is one of the worst decisions in the Supreme Court's history.

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