A local reminder of the controversy surrounding Confederate symbols was evident Friday morning to those walking on Main Street in downtown Lexington.
The John Hunt Morgan statue at the old courthouse on Main Street had "black lives matter" scrawled in black spray paint across the Confederate general's name. The words were blotchy and smeared from rain, and it was hard to make them out without a close look.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he doesn't condone vandalism, but he understands that the statue brings out strong feelings in people.
"The time has come for us to reconsider our Confederate memorials, and I am committed to laying a path forward that acknowledges our history while respecting diversity and inclusion," Gray said. "Civil rights leaders, including the NAACP, and church leaders, historians, artists and citizens should all have a voice in the process."
Chad Hurley, who works in the area and walked by the graffiti-marked statue Friday morning, said, "It's awesome." Hurley said he'd like to see the Morgan statue removed, because it's time we stop honoring symbols of racism.
Dianet Valencia, who was walking her dog Friday when she saw the graffiti, said that rather than vandalizing property, people should go into schools and teach young children that all lives matter.
"Vandalism is not going to cure issues of racism," and the Confederate statues are a part of history, Valencia said.
City parks employees will clean the statute as soon as police have finished their investigation, city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.