Duke University President Vincent E. Price announced in an email to students and faculty Saturday morning that he has authorized the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entrance of Duke University Chapel.
“I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price wrote, according to Duke Today.
He added that the statue would be preserved “so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future.”
Lee’s statue on the portal of Duke Chapel was vandalized late Wednesday night.
The university’s announcement is the latest in a series of efforts by residents of Durham, NC, to fight back after the racist and violent attacks in Charlottesville, VA, last weekend, which resulted in three deaths and were later defended by President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, protesters destroyed a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Durham County Courthouse, and when police began rounding up people involved in that act of resistance, residents turned up at the sheriff’s office to turn themselves in en masse.
On Friday, rumors of a planned KKK rally prompted a massive crowd of locals to turn out in protest against racism, Trump, the KKK, and neo–Nazi fascists who have become emboldened recently by support from the White House.
According to the Associated Press, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is pushing for Confederate monuments across the state to be removed, although a state law restricts that action. Many also are calling for a statue of a Confederate soldier at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to be taken down.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, about 700 Confederate monuments and statues currently occupy public spaces in the U.S.