Junior-high teacher arrested for vandalizing Mississippi confederate monument

Saturday the Oxford Eagle reported the confederate statue on the University of Mississippi campus was vandalized between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.

Per Anna Guizerix:

The Confederate Statue on the University of Mississippi campus was vandalized this evening by an unidentified male. The words “spiritual genocide” were spray-painted on all sides of the statue, along with red handprints.


Campus reform now reports a junior-high teacher was arrested for the destruction of a confederate monument at the University of Mississippi on Saturday.

The phrase “Spiritual genocide” was found spray-painted on the monument, along with red handprints, the Oxford Eagle reported.

Arrested the evening of May 30 and identified as Zachary Bornstein on May 31, the man who defaced the monument graduated from UM with a master of arts degree and currently teaches geometry at Simmons Junior-Senior High School.

He has previously criticized the use of “confederate symbology and language” in an op-ed calling for the end to the university nickname “Ole Miss,” because it is “a reference to slave-plantation life that implies fond nostalgia.”

Bornstein faces a felony charge of injuring, destroying, or defacing certain cemetery property, public buildings, schools or churches, or property thereof. His bond was set at $5,000.

The monument, a statue in the form of a saluting confederate soldier, has been the subject of controversy prior to the weekend’s violence.

In February 2019, students protested the statue’s presence on campus, demanding that it be relocated. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History voted in December of the same year to move the statue from its central location on campus to a Confederate cemetery, but in January, the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees on Thursday delayed voting on the request.

Arielle Hudson tweeted:

I demand that @OxfordPolice release Zach Borenstein on a personal recognizance bond. He is not a public safety threat or a flight risk. He’s a former student of the University of Mississippi, and could easily be found to appear in court at a later date.

Per Clarion Ledger, in February, Borenstein wrote an opinion piece in The Daily Mississippian discussing his criticism of Confederate symbolism and language.

More: How Ole Miss athletics, city of Oxford have responded to George Floyd’s death, nationwide protests

“I can believe that, for some people, Confederate symbology and language may not be directly connected to the harming of others; regardless, it is not at all acceptable,” Bornstein wrote in the Daily Mississippian.

“The Confederate emblem should be removed from the state flag. The statue in the Circle has got to go. Language matters and certain phrases diminish or denigrate groups of people, and if not addressed, these phrases become so commonplace that those using them do not even consider their origins and effects.”

Bornstein also mentioned in the opinion piece that he did not know anything about the phrase “Ole Miss” when he first came to Mississippi. However, he learned the meaning of it, saying it was “used in the time of slavery in reference to a plantation owner’s wife.”

“The retirement of this term would surely upset a great deal of people, many of whom also know nothing of the name’s origins. For many, the term may genuinely have an innocent meaning,” Bornstein said in the DM.

“I get it, but I don’t get it. The miracle of the United States is people living side by side with others from races and places and cultures perhaps as varied as anyplace else in the world. Yet, as we inhabit each others’ spaces, we sometimes fail to really, truly see each other.”