RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A man who was scrubbing graffiti off the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue told 8News Friday that he took it upon himself to clean anti-police messages on the monument, not messages for the Black Lives Matter movement, before he was asked to stop by authorities.
The man, who identified himself as Chris Morrison of Beaverdam, Va., said this was his second attempt to clean the graffiti after he bought spray paint remover. Video shows a crowd of people huddled around and speaking with Morrison as he cleaned the graffiti.
“I wasn’t about to come down here and remove people’s messages to George Floyd, none of that,” Morrison said.
A spokesperson for the Department of General Services told 8News in a statement that they were unaware of what chemicals Morrison was using so Capitol Police responded to the area and requested that he stop.
“When DGS works with contractors to clean structures under its management, we follow protocols to ensure it is done safely,” Dena Potter, the director of communications at DGS, wrote in an email. “Given that we did not know what chemicals were being sprayed, Capitol Police asked the gentleman to stop and he complied.
In response, Morrison told 8News, “I mean, it’s just a graffiti remover. When you buy Windex, do you read the ingredients? Know what I’m saying?”
Morrison went on to tell 8News’ Ben Dennis that he was at the monument last week in order to clean the anti-police related messages. He continued by saying that if authorities ask him to leave during the day as they did on Friday, that he might return at night with his friends to try again.
But for Jozette Wineglass, all the graffiti on Lee has meaning.
“It’s a monument on a monument,” Wineglass said. “Actually when it was there first, and now everybody now is expressing themselves.”