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BREAKING: Duke University removes statue of Robert E. Lee following vandalism

A vandalized statue of Robert E. Lee has been removed from the Duke University chapel. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

The staff at Duke University on Saturday morning removed a vandalized statue of Robert E. Lee from the campus chapel, where it stood among 10 historical figures. The decision came days after the statue was original vandalized.

Duke University President Vincent Price said he consulted with staff, faculty, alumni and the Board of Trustees before authorizing the decision.

"I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,"  Price said in a Saturday morning email to students. "The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future."

Price also announced the creation of a commission of faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and Durham residents to assist the university in "navigating the role of memory and history at Duke."

"The commission will look at how we memorialize individuals on the Duke campus in buildings and sculpture and recommend principles drawn from Duke’s core values to guide us when questions arise.  I will ask this commission to work expeditiously," Price said in his letter.

The statue's removal comes one week after violent protests erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, where gatherers protested the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has called for Confederate monuments on public property to be removed, The Hill reported.

"We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery," Cooper wrote in a post on Medium Tuesday. "These monuments should come down."

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