Confederate monument in Reidsville cemetery vandalized

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REIDSVILLE, N.C. - The Reidsville Confederate Monument -- the topic of a debate which lasted for years -- is now covered in red paint and spray paint.

From 1910 to 2011, the monument stood in Reidsville's downtown area. In 2011, a motorist hit the monument, shattering the granite soldier which stood atop it. Placing the monument back in the center of town sparked a debate between local officials, neighbors and friends -- which resulted in it being placed at its current site -- the Greenview Cemetery.

"I think of history," said Reidsville resident Nancy Durham, while looking at the monument Friday afternoon. "I think of all the soldiers that died in the war."

The monument was originally erected in remembrance of the 1,800 Rockingham County residents who became confederate soldiers and fought in the Civil War. Of those 1,800 over 600 of them died.

"It makes me feel like our boys just did this in vain, you know, fighting for us," Durham said when she got a better look at the damage done to the monument.

Reidsville police got the original call that the monument had been vandalized around noon on Friday.

"Some of the paint was still wet, so we believe that the vandalism happened sometime today," said Reidsville Police Chief Robert Hassell.

Chief Hassell told FOX8's Michael Hennessey that workers had been in the cemetery before the vandalism occurred, but left for lunch, and when they came back the damage had been done. Nearly every flat surface of the monument is covered with spray paint, with such things as "KKK", "Jim Crow", "Slavery" and "Black Lives Matter" written on it. After it was spray painted, the vandals threw red paint on it as well.

"That's not the way to do it. That is not the way to express yourself and get your viewpoint across to people," Chief Hassell said. "This is definitely not something that is condoned, I'm sure, by the majority of the public."

The chief says the charges which would stem from the vandalism would be dependent on the cost of fixing the monument. Most likely, he said, the charges would be misdemeanors.

The dedication of the monument after its move to Greenview Cemetery took place almost exactly a year ago, on July 19, 2014.