Authorities have obtained arrest warrants for two people accused of defacing a monument to people of color with “racist and other deplorable language” at the University of North Carolina flagship campus over the weekend.
As of Tuesday, no arrests had been in the case, according to UNC spokesman Randy Young. Police issued the warrants late Monday night, but didn’t disclose the names of the persons involved. The culprits are now expected to be charged with misdemeanor property damage for their crimes, the Associated Press reported, citing separate incident reports.
In an e-mail, Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said the Unsung Founders Memorial honoring people of color “bound and free” who helped build North Carolina was vandalized with hateful language early on Sunday, March 31. A separate art installation near the campus’ Hanes Art Center was also defaced with racial slurs, he said.
Both incidents are currently under investigation.
“These events challenge not only our most fundamental community values, but also the safety of our campus,” Guskiewicz wrote in a statement. “Lawless behavior will not be tolerated, and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”
University police said vandals defaced the memorial, which features a stone tabletop held up by 300 bronze figurines, with urine and racist language scribbled in permanent marker. The vandalism was discovered just after 1:30 a.m Sunday, while the other vandalism was found hours later.
Police have since obtained an arrest warrant for a suspect identified on surveillance video, local station WRAL reported. Authorities said that person is believed to be affiliated with “Heirs to the Confederacy,” a neo-Confederate group that has previously hosted events in support of UNC’s controversial “Silent Sam” statue, according to The New York Times.
The defacement of the Unsung Founders Memorial comes just six months after protesters toppled the 105-year-old Confederate statue, which critics said saw a symbol of racism and white supremacy. UNC’s then-Chancellor Carol Holt later authorized the removal of the base of the statue, which featured a relief of a woman beseeching a university student to join the Confederate Army.
Lance Spivey, chairman of the Heirs to the Confederacy group, said Monday that he was looking into the university’s allegations that his organization was involved in the Sunday morning incident. Spivey told police that at least two of the group’s members were on campus Saturday night but that he had no information suggesting they had vandalized the memorial. If they had, the group leader said they had defaced it in a “renegade capacity.”
As reported by The New York Times: “[Spivey] said he believed that the two members were cooperating with the police, and that if the allegations against them were proved true, the group would also take ‘whatever punitive measures it deems necessary.’ ”
The university said the memorial has since been cleaned and is now protected by barricades to “deter future incidents.”