Duke University takes down statue of Lee
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Duke University has removed a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from its campus amid an intensifying national debate over Confederate statues and monuments.

The university said it took the statue down from its perch in Duke Chapel early Saturday morning, three days after it had been damaged by vandalism. 

In an email to students, faculty, staff and alumni Saturday morning, University President Vincent Price said he chose to have the statue removed to protect the chapel and its parishioners, and to "express the deep and abiding values of our university."

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The Lee statue will be preserved to allow students to "study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future," he said.

"Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates," Price said in the statement. "We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination; to civil protest, not violence; to authentic dialogue, not rhetoric; and to empathy, not hatred."

The statue's removal came a week after demonstrations by white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent. The demonstrators had gathered in the college town to protest the removal of a statue of Lee from a public park.

Since then, several U.S., state and local officials across the country have called for the removal of Confederate statues and monuments, which are seen by many as symbols of racism and white supremacy. 

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) of North Carolina, where Duke is located, has called for Confederate monuments on public property across the state to be taken down. 

"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."