WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Police are investigating damage to two Confederate statues in downtown Wilmington.
According to Linda Rawley with the Wilmington Police Department, officers were dispatched to the area of Third and Dock streets in reference to property damage to a statue at that location at approximately 4 p.m. Tuesday.
A white flag was hung on the gun of the statue and its head and feet were spray painted.
At approximately 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, officers were called back to the scene and found a rope tied to the statue's neck. Upon examination, officers said they believe it was likely tied to a vehicle in an attempt to pull the statue over.
Rawley said another statue, located at Third and Market streets, was also spray painted.
This comes after unrest in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalist groups clashed with counter protesters. Those groups, among others, were protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
In Durham on Monday, a Confederate statue was pulled down outside the Durham County Courthouse.
Debate over the issue has been sparked across the country and right here in Wilmington.
One local woman said the statues are part of the city's rich military history.
"I think everything should stand and of course not be vandalized," Carolyn Seller said. "It's not OK to vandalize anything and I think it should stand. It's history. You know, I love the North. I love the South. I love everybody. Bible says, 'Love God and each other.'"
"While I don't agree with what the statues represent, it is very difficult to remove every aspect of our history, which has good things and bad things, and those are some of the bad things," Spender Rogers said. "But I don't believe giving violence and defacing things leads to anything. There are ways that people express themselves, but there are better ways."
Mitch Cunningham, deputy chief of the Wilmington Police Department, said the WPD encourages everyone to exercise free speech, but not through illegal activity.
"There are certainly very legal ways to promote things you're concerned with, but engaging in criminal activity is not the way to do it," he said. "We strongly discourage people from doing that. However, (we) conversely strongly encourage people to use their First Amendment rights."
The investigation into damage of the Wilmington statues is ongoing.