The Arthur Ashe Monument in Richmond, Virginia has been defaced by vandals who painted "white lives matter" on it, police revealed on Wednesday. The statue of the tennis legend read both "white lives matter" and the abbreviation "WLM," the New York Times reports.
Police have indicated that several people saw a man wearing a blue t-shirt, red baseball hat, and American flag bandana deface the statue. "We heard [a] spray can rattling as we walked around the monument," said 45-year-old Betsy Milburn. She claimed the men turned to her and her friend and said, "You guys tagged my statue so I am tagging your statue."
He then proceeded to walk to his white car and drive off.
Ashe was a Richmond native who became the first Black man to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. The statue of Ashe was dedicated to him in 1996. Volunteers have since cleaned the monument, and the graffiti was removed by Wednesday evening. The statue of Ashe is one of six on Monument Avenue, with the rest commemorating Confederate veterans including Robert E. Lee.
The incident comes just off the heels of protesters tearing down the Howitzers Monument near the Monroe Park campus on Tuesday. It was the third Confederate statue that Virginia protesters have forcibly removed in the state so far.