The Thomas Jefferson statue on the University of Missouri campus, the focus of continuing controversy and increasing security measures, was splashed with a liquid Friday during a protest for stronger COVID-19 safety measures on campus.
The brown liquid appeared to be chocolate milk to an observer, but the university will review video from cameras used to monitor the statue and the stone nearby that was Jefferson’s original grave marker, spokesman Christian Basi said.
The response will be based on whether the statue is damaged by the liquid and other factors, Basi said.
"We are certainly going to look into the incident, but obviously with any incident we will be reviewing everything about it and specifically what the issue is before making any decisions to move forward," Basi said.
The statue, installed in 2001, became the focus of attention this summer when student Roman Leapheart from Kansas City created an online petition seeking its removal.
Leapheart met with UM System President Mun Choi, who announced June 12 that it would not be removed.
That was followed by graffiti on the sidewalk near the Jefferson statue and relic and paint being poured on the statue. Two people were cited for property damage for those actions.
Security measures added since those incidents include motion-sensing lights and cameras. Last weekend, a heavy acrylic case was placed around the grave marker.
Along with tighter COVID-19 protocols, the protesters on campus Friday demanded the removal of the statue. Ari Ellis, a Kansas City sophomore, who described himself as Black and gay, said it is a personal affront to him.
Jefferson was a rapist, yet the university spent $20,000 to protect his tombstone in a glass case, Ellis said.
"Missouri is the Show-Me State," Ellis said. "Mizzou, don’t tell me that you care about me. Show me."
"I think we have addressed many of these topics already," Basi said when asked about the demands and allegations. "The issue of the statue was addressed yesterday by the Board of Curators."
It was revealed at the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting that the board, not Choi, made the decision to keep the Jefferson statue on campus.