CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Monument Fund has been granted special access to the statue of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in downtown Charlottesville to assess damage following an incident last weekend.
On Sunday, the statues of Jackson and fellow Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee were tagged with “1619” in a presumed reference to the first year enslaved Africans were transported to what is now the United States.
Though Charlottesville Parks and Recreation cleaned off the graffiti Monday, the Monument Fund says the statue of Jackson experienced further damage. In a Facebook post attributed to the group, photos of the Jackson monument show apparent damage to the statue's base.
According to the group, the allegorical figures of Faith and Valor on the base of the Jackson monument have suffered serious damage. The two figures' noses appear to have been chiseled off, and there are other similar chisel-like damages to the statue.
“The Monument Fund will meet with its attorneys to discuss how to initiate a criminal investigation, as the damage done to the Jackson Monument falls under a class 6 felony,” the post reads. “The Monument Fund is also contacting a company to inquire about whether the damage can be repaired and at what cost.”
A spokesman for the Monument Fund could not be reached Thursday.
In response to a request, the city provided a copy of a correspondence between the Monument Fund and City Manager Tarron Richardson.
Jock Yellott, executive director of the Monument Fund, sent a letter to Richardson on Tuesday, requesting to install cameras in the statues' respective parks at the group's own expense.
“The Monument Fund, Inc. previously offered to assist the City in mounting cameras in the parks. The City failed to respond,” Yellott wrote. “We will mount the cameras, and bear any risk of their loss.”
Yellott also requested that the Monument Fund be allowed access to the statues past the orange fencing into the no-trespassing zone so that a granite expert can assess the damage and determine the cost of repairs.
In a letter Thursday, Richardson denied the group’s request to install cameras but wrote that he will allow access to the Jackson statue. However, access will be limited to two individuals who must be approved for a specific date and time period prior to access. Written approval will be granted by the director of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, the Monument Fund criticized the city’s response to the vandalism and wrote that it had contacted two experts in granite sculpture to assess the damage.
“Charlottesville's elected officials appear to be turning a blind eye to the criminality that has occurred in these parks,” the post reads. “Their position on the monuments is very clear as is ours: The Monument Fund is committed to seeing that justice is done.”
The Charlottesville Police Department is investigating the incidents, spokesman Tyler Hawn confirmed Thursday. Because the incidents are under investigation, he could not confirm whether the damage alleged by the Monument Fund to the Jackson statue was new.
This past week’s vandalism is not the first time the statues have been vandalized. The Lee statue was tagged with a political message in July. In February, someone spray-painted the word “fredom” on the base. Taggers also marked the statue with “Native Land” in July 2017 and “Black Lives Matter” in 2015.
The latest instance comes after the end of a three-day trial over the City Council's 2017 vote to take down the statues. Judge Richard E. Moore ordered that they must stay in place.