A Tennessee monument honoring hundreds of Confederate soldiers was painted over the weekend to read “They were racists.”
Police said the vandalism, which was discovered Monday in Nashville’s Centennial Park, likely occurred sometime late Sunday. Metro Nashville Police Department Capt. Chris Taylor told the Tennessean there are surveillance cameras in the park that authorities will review.
The parks department removed the red paint, some of which had been splashed across the monument, a police spokesperson told HuffPost on Tuesday.
Park and city officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bronze monument, called the Confederate Private Monument, features a single Confederate soldier. He is seated above a plaque listing the names of more than 500 members of the Frank Cheatham Bivouac, a camp that was named after a Confederate general following the war. It was commissioned in 1903 and dedicated in 1909, according to the Smithsonian’s website.
This type of vandalism is rare, Taylor told the Tennesseean.
“The parks do experience vandalism, usually it’s tagging, more of a neutral nature. This is more focused, obviously, with a political statement associated,” he said. “A political-nature vandalism hasn’t happened in at least seven or eight years.”
There has been a rise in vandalism to Confederate War memorials across the country amid growing protests to have them removed.
A monument erected in 1903 for Confederate soldiers in Austin, Texas, was similarly painted earlier this month with the word “RACISTS.”
A monument to a Confederate commander in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was also found vandalized with eggs, raw meat and other substances, according to local station WHSV.
In April, a monument honoring Confederate soldiers in a cemetery in Durham, North Carolina, was found vandalized for the second time. That monument was erected in 2014 by the Durham camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the News Observer reported.
People examining the vandalism in Nashville’s park on Monday expressed shock and disappointment while speaking with a local reporter.
“I don’t think that this helps anything. I don’t think this moves the conversation forward. This is just someone who wanted attention,” Meehan Rahman, who was visiting Nashville from Pennsylvania, told 5 News.
“People don’t take the time to think about it but there were controversial figures in the Civil War that were unfortunately racist and then there were men who were just following what their state believed in and they were just soldiers,” he said. “It’s like, not everyone who was fighting in the union was fighting for civil rights.”