Vandals desecrate Robert E. Lee statue

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (CBS) – A monument to Robert E. Lee, erected on a Virginia college campus after the Civil War, will be melted down for public art.

Officials at the University of Virginia say they will use the bulk of the steel to build a statue depicting the US President Thomas Jefferson.

How it came to be

Despite Virginia’s federal government being only recently granted statehood after the Civil War, a statue of Lee stands on campus.

The statue, which was erected in 1924, is shown standing with a sword raised in front of the school’s most famous dorm.

State lawmakers have been fighting over when the statue should come down.

CBS News spoke with President Donald Trump about how he would respond if the statue ever came down.

“If that statue went down, they would be mobbing the streets,” he said.

The president’s speech, on Feb. 22, has since been rejected by the Republican Party of Virginia.

Shuttering a dorm

Earlier this year, the school closed down Thomas Jefferson Hall and its residence halls in protest of its statue, saying it was “no longer safe” for students.

University of Virginia administrators say in an online letter that Jefferson Tower students will be moved into new housing for the remainder of this semester.

Vandals spray-painted messages like “Black Lives Matter” on the Thomas Jefferson residence hall walls in March.

The school is also considering a plan to create a more permanent memorial that would replace the statue with a carved stone wall, entitled “Tower of Scholars”.

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