MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- Mobile police say a suspect has been identified and arrested after the Admiral Raphael Semmes statue in downtown Mobile was vandalized overnight.

The suspect has been identified as 20-year-old Mitchell Bond of Mobile. He is charged with defacing a monument which is a Class A misdemeanor, according to Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste. 

Messages were spray painted at the base of the statue of the Civil War figure, which stands at the foot of Government Street near the Mobile River. Some of the messages said "we built it, help them rebuild" and "confed scum."

City workers had completely cleaned all of the graffiti off the monument before noon. Yet, the defacing still stirred up some emotions.

“It makes me feel sick. It really does. Defacing public property and a monument. It’s criminal behavior,” said David Toiful.

“The statue itself is an inadequate representation of the history. So they definitely need to go,” Mary Smith added.

Toiful said it hurts to see something that means so much to him defaced.

"Disagree peacefully that’s what our systems all about. It’s not then to destroy something or deface something. I’m not for that at all. I don’t care what your anger is, I’m angry now, but I’m not going to find something that’s dear to somebody else and deface it and destroy it because I’m angry,” Toiful added.

Semmes was an officer in the Confederate navy. He commanded the CSS Alabama.

George Talbot, director of communications and external affairs for the City of Mobile told FOX10 News, "the statue was vandalized last night and a suspect has been identified. The graffiti is being cleaned, as we would do with any public property."

Others like Smith believe the defacing is a sign there should be some talk about removing the monument.

“Personally, I would take them down. i would just take them down. I think that they can be replaced by statues that are more representative of what happened,” said Smith.

Monday night workers in Birmingham began the process of taking down a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Linn Park. The City of Mobile's spokesperson George Talbot said it would take conversation with several party's at the table.

"Any decision on moving it would be collaborative in nature. There is a process for that, and we are listening to the community’s voice as part of that process," he said in a statement.

Meantime, Smith said the vandalism is a statement that should be heard.

“It’s a signal of rage, and rage is a signal of pain, and pain is a signal of having been wounded,” she said. 

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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