Petition wants Thomas Jefferson statue removed at Missouri

Associated Press
University of Missouri student Josh Hill, right, in October 2015 helps reattach post-it notes on a statue of Thomas Jefferson describing the former president as a "racist", "liar", "slave owner", "oppressor" as well as other words after they were removed. A new effort is underway asking MU to remove the statue of the third president.

COLUMBIA — Organizers of an online petition drive to have a statue of Thomas Jefferson removed from the University of Missouri's campus in Columbia had a "very constructive" meeting with the university system's president on Thursday, a school spokesman said.

UM System President and interim University of Missouri Chancellor Mun Choi met in private with the petition organizers. University spokesman Christian Basi said he would release details from the meeting at a later time. 

The petition had garnered more than 3,250 signatures by Thursday afternoon.

One of the organizers of the petition campaign, Roman Leaphart, a sophomore from Kansas City, said previously he objected to the statue because Jefferson owned slaves and father children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings.

Leaphart, who is black, said he was also motivated by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

Students also petitioned to have the statue removed in 2015, when the campus was roiled by protests by people upset with the university's treatment of minorities but that petition did not gain traction.