‘The Volunteer State’ has been the site for controversy around its dozens of Confederate memorials for the past seven years.
Nashville police discovered three words etched in bright red spray paint along the side of a war monument on Monday morning: “They were racists.”
The Confederate statue, which was placed in Tennessee’s Centennial Park in 1909, was vandalized in the early Monday morning hours, according to the Tennessean. Captain Chris Taylor of the Metro Nashville Police Department said the Midtown Precinct is investigating the incident and checking the monument for fingerprints and reviewing surveillance video footage from the park.
“The parks do experience vandalism, usually it’s tagging, more of a neutral nature. This is more focused, obviously, with a political statement associated,” Taylor said. “A political-nature vandalism hasn’t happened in at least seven or eight years.”
Taylor said the paint will be power washed off.
Confederacy monuments and statues have drawn much back-and-forth controversy throughout Tennessee and the U.S. as citizens debate the figures’ reverence for historical value and memorialization of racism and slavery.
According to CNN, Tennessee had just under 100 Confederate statues throughout the state, as of 2018.
On June 5, 2019, Nashville’s Court of Appeals found that the city of Memphis was not in violation of state law when it removed several Confederate statues from city parks.
Since the removals, the statue count in Tennessee sits at about 70.