Update: The Mobile Police Department arrested 20-year-old Mitchell Bond on charges of criminal mischief Tuesday afternoon in connection to the defacing the Admiral Raphael Semmes statue. Though jail records are currently inaccessible, police say Bond is from Mobile and doesn’t have a criminal record. He also appeared to admit he was responsible for the graffiti during a perp walk shortly after his arrest.
As protests over the death of George Floyd continue to roil the country, the Admiral Raphael Semmes statue in downtown Mobile was defaced with graffiti last night.
Semmes served in the Confederate Navy as the commander of the CSS Alabama and the statue has stood over the intersection of Government and Royal streets since 1901.
It was commissioned and is maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and was rededicated in 2000.
Yesterday, the city of Birmingham removed a controversial Confederate monument after it was damaged by protestors Sunday. There, the monument had been a source of contention since at least 2015, targeted for removal among many across the country in the wake of a white supremacists’ shooting at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine people dead.
As a result, several states, including Alabama, passed laws protecting such monuments. Yesterday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the city of Birmingham would be subject to a one-time $25,000 fine for the monument’s removal.
Separately, a statue of Robert E. Lee was removed from a Montgomery high school yesterday. Coincidentally, the state of Alabama observed former Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ birthday Monday as an official state holiday, one of three Confederate-related state holidays observed every year in Alabama. It also recognizes Robert E. Lee’s birthday Jan. 10 and Confederate Memorial Day April 27.
This morning, a representative of the Raphael Semmes Camp 11 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said Lagniappe was the first to inform him of the graffiti, and he wasn’t prepared to comment. Later, another spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the Semmes statue was paid for by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and to his knowledge, has never been vandalized.
“I think you got a bunch of miscreants looking for any excuse to make trouble, take things down and cause chaos,” he said of vandalism and protests here and nationwide. “It’s my thought that these people have a culture that disrespects and dishonors their veterans and [can’t] hope to maintain their own history or honor.”
The spokesperson said he would clean the graffiti himself, but would leave it to the city of Mobile and Mobile Police Department to protect it going forward.
“I don’t know if the police would allow me to sit down there armed even though I’m licensed, and it would probably cause more problems than it would solve,” he said. “We pay police to protect the city’s monuments and property and in Mobile they seem to be doing a better job than most.”
In 2018, Camp 11 dedicated a 9-foot-tall marble and granite statue of a Confederate soldier at Fort McDermott in Spanish Fort. Last year, Fort Blakeley Camp 1864 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, re-dedicated a circa 1941 monument removed by the city of West Palm Beach Florida at Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear.
In Mobile, the graffiti appears to express anti-police sentiment and includes the phrases “Confed scum” and “we built it, help them rebuild.”
By 10 a.m., the city of Mobile had its Public Works Department on scene removing the graffiti with a pressure washer.
Updated to include comments from a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
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