PROVO, Utah – A statue of Brigham Young that stands in front of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building at BYU was vandalized sometime between June 14 – 15, police said.
BYU police Lt. Rich Christianson said the vandals used red spray paint to write the word “racist” on the statue.
The suspects also attempted to cover the statue in red latex paint. Christianson said it appeared to have been “done in haste.”
“It was kind of a hit-and-run type of deal,” he said.
Campus crews were able to clean the statue off the morning of June 15.
Christianson said the vandalism is currently under investigation, and no suspects have been named.
A group of university students recently started a petition to rename the administration building due to its namesake’s ties to slavery. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had garnered nearly 400 signatures.
Abraham O. Smoot was the first head of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University, as well as a Provo mayor. According to the Third District Court in Salt Lake County, three individuals were listed as “property” of Smoot upon his death.
“There is a big push around the country to remove all statues or anything that commemorates somebody who basically didn’t stand for what we stand for now,” BYU student Cole Stewart-Johnson said. “Although [Smoot] did make a big contribution we can talk about him, we can mention him, but we aren’t going to idealize someone who enslaved others in the past.”
The petition focused on renaming the Smoot Administration Building and does not call for the removal of the Brigham Young Statue.