A statue at Duke Chapel “bearing the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee has been vandalized,” the university said in a statement.
Damage to the figure’s face was discovered Thursday morning—three days after demonstrators pulled down a Confederate monument on Main Street in Durham and as monuments to the Confederacy are being removed and covered up across the country.
According to the university’s statement, Duke officials are investigating and reviewing video from inside the chapel. Security has been stepped up, the statement says.
“Duke Chapel is a place of sanctuary and refuge that belongs to every member of the Duke community,” Duke president Vincent E. Price said in the statement. “Each of us deserves a voice in determining how to address the questions raised by the statues of Robert E. Lee and others, and confront the darker moments in our nation’s history.
“For an individual or group of individuals to take matters into their own hands and vandalize a house of worship undermines the right, protected in our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, of every Duke student and employee to participate fully in university life,” Price continued. “To that end, earlier this week I began consulting with students, faculty, alumni and others about the ways in which we can use this issue to teach, learn and heal. Together—and only together—we will determine an appropriate course of action informed by our collective values.”
The statue is one of ten that surrounds the entrance to the chapel. The statues are not labeled, but according to the university, four depict Methodist leaders: Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury George Whitefield, and John Wesley. Also included are Girolamo Savonarola, an excommunicated Dominican friar; Martin Luther, a leader in the Protestant Reformation; John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English; Thomas Jefferson, the third president; and Sidney Lanier, a Southern poet and musician.