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UNLV removes Hey Reb! statue after protest from student groups

Updated June 16, 2020 - 10:44 pm

UNLV on Tuesday removed the Hey Reb! statue in front of the Tam Alumni Center after outcry from student groups, including the Native American Student Association.

“In recent conversations with the donor we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it,” university President Marta Meana said in a statement Tuesday night. “Over the past few months, I have had discussions with multiple individuals and stakeholder groups from campus and the community on how best the university can move forward given recent events throughout our nation. That includes the future of our mascot. The frequency of those conversations has increased in recent weeks, and I will have more to share with campus once the listening tour is complete.”

In the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody set off protests and sporadic violence across the U.S. over the treatment of black people, many Confederate monuments have been damaged or taken down, some toppled by demonstrators, others removed by local authorities.

A petition to abolish UNLV’s mascot was created Sunday following three letters from Jonathan “Doc” Bradley, a part-time political science professor at the university.

“The mascot, originally named “Beauregard” after the Confederate general who fired the first shots of the Civil War, presents a public image that runs counter to our core values and UNLV’s mission to become the leading multicultural university in the United States. Having a mascot that is inextricably connected to a failed regime whose single aim was to preserve the institution of slavery is an embarrassment to our campus and to our community,” the petition read.

Related: Could UNLV’s Hey Reb! be next mascot to change amid controversy?

Bradley said having lived in Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina, he grew up familiar with the Confederacy. He said recent events in the nation, which Meana also cited in her letter Tuesday night, make the statue that much more out of place at a campus like UNLV.

“To be fair, they’ve made some dramatic changes, but sadly, the saddest statement about this is a young person of color is going to be killed again, unjustly in our streets in the future,” Bradley said. “It’s already happened a couple of times. It’s going to continue to happen. Every time, these traumatic and horrible events come up in our society, people will go back to UNLV and say, ‘You’ve got this connection that you refuse that you refuse to do anything about, or you refuse to go ahead and make the necessary steps. As long as these actions of silence against people of color and people of poverty are legitimate by this idea, this holdover of this ugliness of Confederacy, that connection is still going to be there.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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