After hearing from and consulting with a number of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and with the strong support of the Board of Trustees, I authorized the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance of Duke Chapel early this morning.
Last week, a protest against the removal of a Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly when a man rammed his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Thursday, university officials reported that the vandalism took place overnight, as the local and national debate sparks over whether these monuments should stand.
In a letter to the campus community, President Price talked about the decision to remove the statue.
The prestigious university will preserve the statue of Lee, who led Confederate forces in the American Civil War of 1861-1865, and use it as an educational tool so that students can study "Duke's complex past", Price added. The limestone carving was one of 10 figures memorialized near the chapel door; its face was vandalized Wednesday amid controversy over the similar statues honoring Confederate figures that are displayed throughout much of the country, especially in the South.
There are more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy, including 700 monuments and statues, in public spaces across the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
"Each of us deserves a voice in determining how to address the questions raised by the statues of Robert E. Lee and others, and confront the darker moments in our nation's history".
More than a half-dozen have been taken down since last week.