As peaceful protesters met on the Square on Saturday, the Confederate monument that sits at the Circle on campus was vandalized.
The words “spiritual genocide” were spraypainted in black across all four sides of the base, and “SG” was painted toward the bottom. University Police Department (UPD) arrested suspect Zach Borenstein, a 38-year-old white man, at the scene. He was charged with the destruction of public property costing over $300, which is a felony charge.
Facilities Management covered the messages with tarps after attempting to power wash them off the statue with no success.
At the Square, many people gathered to protest the wrongful death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. Protesters held signs with messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Names,” with names of other African Americans who have died from police brutality displayed around the words.
For years, student groups and UM community members have protested the presence of the monument. In 2019, Associated Student Body senators unanimously passed the initial resolution to relocate the monument to the Confederate cemetery behind the Tad Smith Coliseum. The resolution was passed by other governing bodies on campus and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History before the Institutions of Higher Learning Board (IHL) postponed a vote to move the monument in January.
Currently, the IHL’s vote is delayed until the board receives information regarding relocation recommendations from the 2017 contextualization report from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Contextualization.