Police say someone took Charlottesville plaque marking site of slave auctions

Police say someone took Charlottesville plaque marking site of slave auctions
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A plaque that marked the location of past slave auctions has reportedly been removed and vandalism discovered in Charlottesville, Va., the site of 2017's deadly white supremacist rally.

Police were informed Thursday that one of the two markers near Charlottesville's Court Square had disappeared, according to a local television station WVIR-TV.

City spokesman Brian Wheeler confirmed the disappearance of the marker, which had been built into a sidewalk. Previously, the plaque had been criticized for "being illegible," according to a report by The Daily Progress.

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A nearby light pole was inscribed with "1619," the year that the first Africans were brought to Virginia as slaves, in what police think is dirt from beneath the marker.

Officials are unsure whether sidewalk plaque was taken "for protection" or if it was stolen. A different marker on the wall of a nearby building had been damaged and was removed by its tenants, Wheeler said.

A reward of up to $1,000 is offered to anyone with information leading to an arrest in connection to missing plaque, according to an Associated Press report.

Police investigators say that the vandalism found on Thursday is "similar to recent vandalism cases in city-owned parks," such as the damages made to statues of Confederate generals Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee. 

These statues became a rallying point for white nationalists back in 2017 after groups flocked to Charlottesville to protest their proposed removal.

James Alex Fields Jr., a white supremacist, has admitted to intentionally driving his car into demonstrators who came to protest against the white nationalists. Fields was convicted of murdering activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.

The parks where the 2017 protests erupted have since been renamed, going from Lee Park and Jackson Park to Market Street Park and Court Square Park, respectively.