Washington (AFP) – A statue of African American tennis great Arthur Ashe displayed in his native Richmond, Virginia, was vandalized on Wednesday.
Amid ongoing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, photographs showed the base of the statue had been spray-painted with the words “white lives matter and “WLM” — with the letters “BLM” then spray painted over both.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch said local volunteers were quick to begin work to remove tags on the monument dedicated to the three-time Grand Slam champion, who was the first black player selected to the US Davis Cup team.
Ashe, who retired in 1980, was a vocal advocate for civil rights and for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients before his death in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.
The statue, dedicated in 1996, is on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, where multiple statues memorializing Confederate figures have been toppled, vandalized or slated for removal during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer on may 25.