Vandals defaced a historic marker that designates the site where Robert E. Lee lived at Fort Monroe before the Civil War, officials said Friday.
The marker, dubbed “Lee’s Quarters,” which commemorates his time as a Union Army officer at the fortress was tagged with the letters “BLM” in black spray paint, Fort Monroe Authority spokeswoman Phyllis Terrell said.
Nearby the marker on the sidewalk vandals sprayed several groups of “BLM” letters in black and mustard-yellow paint.
Hampton police received a call shortly after 10 a.m. Friday about vandalism on the historic placard and the sidewalk in the first block of Bernard Road, spokesman Sgt. R.C. Williams said in an email.
Police responded and a public works crew removed the marker Friday morning, Terrell said.
Aubrey Japharii Jones, who heads the Black Lives Matters 757 group said the organization did not have anything to do with the incident.
The marker in front of the former homestead is the headquarters of the Fort Monroe National Monument, managed by the National Park Service.
President Barack Obama designated the former military post a national monument after the Army pulled out in 2011.
Kym Hall, the park service’s superintendent at Colonial National Historical Park, and acting superintendent at Fort Monroe, said while the NPS doesn’t condone the damage, the incident can open the door to dialogue.
“We are very cognizant of the pain and the struggle and unrest that is happening in our society right now and our agency doesn’t hold any animosity toward the people who are struggling and trying to find their voice to express what they are feeling,” Hall said. “We have to clean up and protect the resources. We are also prompted to rethink or be thoughtful about how we convey the stories that we do at Fort Monroe. We hope the communities understand that we want to be a place of healing. That may mean reconsidering how we tell the stories of our shared past.”
The incident comes following several days of vandalism and graffiti scrawled across on Confederate monuments around Hampton Roads amid protests of the death of George Floyd, racism and police brutality.
The Army installed the marker in 1969. Lee was a lieutenant of the engineer’s corps at the fort serving from 1831 to 1834, decades before he joined the Confederacy.
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