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A statue of the nation's third president at the university he founded was vandalized Friday.

At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, a statue of a seated Thomas Jefferson had the words "racist + rapist" scrawled in red spray paint on what would be his 275th birthday.

The Jefferson home, Monticello, lies a short distance on the other side of Interstate 64 from campus.

Jefferson has drawn criticism as the nationwide controversy over public statuary gained steam.

He was known to own slaves, and is rumored to have fathered a child with a servant named Sally Hemings.

A university spokesperson slammed the defacement of Jefferson's statue, telling the Washington Post that UVA "recognizes the complexities of Thomas Jefferson's legacy and continues to explore them fully and honestly."

"UVA welcomes open and civil discourse on such important issues, however acts of vandalism do not contribute to meaningful discussion," Anthony de Bruyn said.

Facilities department workers were called to fix the statue and law enforcement is investigating.


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