National News

AZ Confederate memorials tarred and feathered, spray-painted

Posted August 18

— Vandals defaced two of Arizona's Confederate memorials overnight. One monument was spray-painted; the other, tarred and feathered.

Following a weekend of racial clashes in Virginia, Arizona civil rights leaders have been demanding the removal of Confederate memorials around our state. Many describe the monuments as symbols of racial hatred and terror.

Now two of those memorials in our state have been vandalized.

Just before 5 a.m. Thursday, Capitol District Troopers found the memorial in downtown Phoenix had been spray-painted. The memorial is located at Wesley Bolin Plaza right by the State Capitol.

The memorial was cleaned up with a power washer, and investigators began a search for the suspect.

That suspect is described as a white male in his 40s with a gray beard. He was last seen wearing a black hat, black shirt and cargo shorts riding a bicycle in the area of 17th Avenue and Washington.

A Confederate memorial near Apache Junction was also vandalized.

Our chopper flew over the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway monument near U.S. 60 at Peralta Road Thursday morning. The memorial appeared to have been defaced with tar and feathers.

"I think it's absolutely irresponsible and non-productive. It does absolutely nothing to promote the cause of removing symbols of hate in the state when individuals take matters into their hands and vandalize state property," said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, who is black and who has advocated for the removal of Confederate monuments on public lands.

"These acts of vandalism are not an appropriate response, and it's not how we do things in Arizona," Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday afternoon. "If you have objections to a memorial, then get involved and work through the proper channels. Breaking the law and destroying property isn't the answer."

Earlier this week, Ducey condemned hate groups, but said he will not push for the removal Confederate monuments on state property.

Ducey does not have the sole authority to get rid of the monuments. Those decisions are made by state boards and commissions, in which many are appointed by the governor.

On Sunday, following the deadly confrontations in Charlottesville, VA, in which a woman was killed by a suspected Nazi sympathizer, the governor condemned white nationalists groups on social media.

He doubled down on those comments later saying, "I categorically 100 percent condemned these hate groups -- the KKK the Klan, neo-Nazis, white nationalists."

The latest vandalism incident is among several around the country, including in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

Arizona was briefly a Confederate territory and a Confederate force occupied Tucson for a few weeks during the Civil War.

The issue of Confederate monuments has been building up for years as black leaders and others around the country have called for their removal, saying they glorify racism.

They've faced opposition from white nationalists and even President Donald Trump, who tweeted on Thursday that removing monuments was foolish.

"Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," Trump wrote.

The six Confederate memorials sit on state land throughout our state include:

Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery (Phoenix)

Wesley Bolin Memorial Park (Phoenix)

Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery (Sierra Vista)

Picacho Peak State Park (Picacho)

Dragoon Spring

U.S. 60 at Peralta Road (Apache Junction)

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