AUSTIN — “Black Lives Matter” was found spray-painted on a prominent monument at the University of Texas at Austin early Thursday, just hours after news broke of the second fatal shooting of a black man by police in the last two days.
The message was scrawled across the George Littlefield Fountain, a prominent memorial that anchors the school’s South Mall. It features an inscription dedicating it “to the men and the women of the Confederacy who fought with valor and suffered with fortitude that states rights be maintained.”
Local educator RocÃo Villalobos posted a picture of the spray-painted message on Instagram and Twitter around 9 a.m. By 10:45 a.m., UT Police Department spokeswoman Cindy Posey said, the paint had been mostly removed by university facilities staff.
The message appeared just hours after news broke that a police officer in Minnesota had fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop on Wednesday. Castile, 32, was the second black man to be killed by law enforcement in the last two days; Alton Sterling, 37, was shot to death by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
UT’s handful of nods and memorials to the Confederacy have been the subject of attack for years. In February, “Black Lives Matter” was spray-painted at five locations on campus after a 17-year-old black man was shot and killed by police in Austin. In 2015, the same message was painted on two statues after nine black churchgoers were shot to death in Charleston, S.C.
One of those statues — of Confederate President Jefferson Davis — has since been removed and placed in a museum and archival building on campus. Several others, however, remain, including the Littlefield inscription.
George Littlefield was a Confederate soldier and member of Terry’s Texas Rangers, a famed Civil War cavalry group that is memorialized with a large statue on the Capitol grounds.
Later in life, Littlefield donated more than $3 million to UT-Austin, the largest gift the school had received at the time. It was used in part to commission the fountain and many of the Confederate statues that were meant to be placed there but ended up strewn about campus.
While UT took steps to address some of these statues in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, there is little political impetus to alter or move any of the nearly dozen memorials to the Confederacy on the Capitol grounds.