Vandals emblazoned graffiti on a portion of Littlefield Fountain at the University of Texas early Thursday and dyed the water in the South Mall landmark a bright shade of purple.
A message in red spray paint read: “This is the blood of survivors that UT ignores” with a drawing of a hammer and sickle.
The sight stopped students in their tracks as they headed to classes, many snapping photos.
Crews from UT’s Facilities Services spent most of the day removing the graffiti with pressure washers and planned to empty the fountain, clean it and refill it.
Similar graffiti with a hammer and sickle was found Feb. 5 outside the UT College of Pharmacy building where Richard Morrisett was a professor. Morrisett had pleaded guilty in 2016 to choking his girlfriend, a charge that he failed to disclose to the university, an American-Statesman investigation found. The graffiti read: “Careful! UT Keeps abusers on staff!” and “Watch your back Richard.”
Morrisett is still on staff at UT and several students in February protested demanding his firing.
A self-described anti-capitalist group called the Revolutionary Student Front posted photos of the vandalized fountain on its Twitter and Facebook accounts. The posts also urged people to organize against the university and other institutions that “uphold patriarchy and protect abusers like Richard Morrisett.”
University spokeswoman Cindy Posey could not confirm a connection between the graffiti incidents but said that campus police are coordinating their investigation with other law enforcement agencies. UT police also will be increasing patrols on campus as a response.