Knight Library Vandalized; Graffiti Refers To Controversial Mural

Jun 30, 2020

An overnight act of vandalism against a campus library has been condemned by the University of Oregon.

The vandalized portion of the Knight Library as it appeared this morning.
Credit Angee Ewen Brown

Photos taken this morning by a U of O employee  show the front metal gates of the Knight Library slathered in red paint, and a large section of broken glass fallen inside the foyer.

Among the spray-painted messages on the library steps was the question, “WHOSE RACIAL HERITAGE”?

Entrance to the Knight Library shows a large pane of glass that was covered in paint, then pushed or kicked into the foyer.
Credit Angee Ewen Brown

In 2018, a controversial mural inside the library was vandalized. Called “The Mission of a University” the 1937 piece refers to the preservation and betterment of  “our racial heritage”.  The Daily Emerald reported that a petition drive to have the mural removed received 1800 signatures.

Two weeks ago, activists pulled down statues of The Pioneer and Pioneer Mother. Critics saw them as symbols of white supremacy and colonization. Many statues, murals, and plaques have been revisited during the past month, as Black and Indigenous activists have challenged historical narrative.  While many Confederate statues have been toppled, a fair number of colonial and pioneer-era monuments have been defaced or removed as well, including those depicting explorer Christopher Columbus and conquistador Juan de Oñate.

In this 2018 photo, "The Mission of a University" mural has had its reference to "our racial heritage" highlighted in red paint.
Credit Emily Matlock / The Daily Emerald

In a statement, the U of O says it supports the right to free expression and protest in this moment of national reckoning, but "cannot condone acts of destruction." 

The university adds in the same written release that they "will not let this act of violence distract us from the important, ongoing work in examining how our library resources can further promote equity and inclusion."

The Knight Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Campus police are investigating.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.