PeeDee

PeeDee the Pirate Statue sits at an undisclosed location awaiting repairs on the damages done to the statue.

Following the vandalism of the PeeDee the Pirate statue on East Carolina University’s main campus on Oct. 3, its repairs are underway and is set to return to campus, but students express concerns about the lack of information provided to them from the university itself.

Between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on Oct. 3, Efe Mert Erdem, a non-ECU student, was allegedly responsible for the destruction of the PeeDee the Pirate statue. A video showed Erdem attacking and jumping on the statue which caused damage to the right arm of the statue. The statue was then removed from campus following the incident by 3 p.m. on Oct. 3.

Erdem was arrested by the ECU Police Department the same day and was given a $500 secured bond. An ECU student was also involved in the vandalism and was referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR). Since the student is a juvenile, information on the individual was not able to be released. Alcohol impairment potentially played a part in the destruction, according to ECU PD. 

Deputy Director of ECU News Services Jamie Smith said in an email statement that members of ECU’s School of Art and Design are involved in repairing the PeeDee the Pirate statue. She said the university is not able to publicize where the statue is located during repairs for security reasons.

Smith said the repairs for the statue will take several weeks depending on the severity of the damages. The university plans to let the campus community know when the statue has returned to its home on the main campus mall. 

“We plan to let campus know once the statue is ready to return to its home since it is a very popular feature on campus. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a good estimate of the statue’s return at this time,” Smith said. 

ECU students congregated around the site of the statue for a memorial at midnight on Oct. 3, the day after the statue’s destruction, leaving memorabilia in its place. During the memorial, students sang various ECU game-day favorites such as “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and the ECU alma mater. Students laid out various memorabilia at the site of the statue such as, but not limited to, no-quarter flags, bouquet of flowers, pictures and alcohol containers.

Following the memorial, the items that were left by students were cleaned up. Smith said the amount of items left grew to the point that it would have blown around campus or been subject to damage due to wind or rain.

The university never released a formal statement following the vandalism, Smith said, due to ECU News Services working with the ECU Police Department to respond to questions related to the vandalism that occurred.

“ECU News worked with ECU Police to respond to questions related to the vandalism from media and posted the information about the vandalism and arrest on ECU Police Twitter,” Smith said. 

Associate Dean of Students Leila Faranesh, and director of OSRR, said in an email statement that OSRR is not allowed to discuss the processing of the ongoing investigation of the vandalism. 

“It would not be appropriate to discuss an ongoing investigation or to speculate on potential consequences. Consequences are determined by a variety of factors and are not cookie-cutter for each offense,” Faranesh said.

Chancellor Philip Rogers said the PeeDee statue is one of the landmarks on campus that he walks by everyday when he’s on campus because it reminds him of the spirit of ECU. Even though he does not have to walk by the statue, Rogers said he creates a reason to walk by it. 

“It’s been a challenging walk the last couple of weeks to go through the mall and not see our friend PeeDee standing in his usual location,” Rogers said. 

Rogers said it was disappointing to see the damages to the statue because it was a gathering place on campus where the ECU community can show their Pirate Pride. He said individuals who visit the statue take photos of it and connect with friends and colleagues.

When he was away from ECU for about eight years before returning to Greenville, North Carolina, Rogers said he would visit the PeeDee the Pirate statue with his children and family and take a picture with it.

The PeeDee statue was an “iconic” place on campus, Rogers said. When any place on campus is disrupted, Rogers said, it runs contradictory to ECU’s values as a community.

“So we’re (ECU) hopeful for a quick recovery for PeeDee. Know that he is with our School of Art and Design and with our facilities team as we speak under good care,” Rogers said. “And I’m excited to bring him (PeeDee) back into the light of our campus mall as soon as possible.”

Leo Wells, sophomore intended professional acting major, said he recently transferred to ECU and was not aware of the PeeDee the Pirate statue being damaged. He said if he had known about the incident sooner from the university, he would’ve paid closer attention to the incident and created talk amongst his peers about the vandalism.  

Although Wells was not aware of the vandalism, he said it was pointless for someone to cause damage to a property without a motive. He said the PeeDee the Pirate statue was a “weird” target and it was uncanny the incident had happened in the first place. 

“There's nothing cool behind this (vandalizing the statue), there's no motive, there's no take back, you know? If you're just trying to say ECU sucks, then that's pointless. You know anyone can say that any school sucks,” Wells said.

Freshman criminal justice major Cole Cline said he was at his home away from campus when he found out the PeeDee the Pirate statue was vandalized through his social media accounts. He said the vandalism made him and his friends upset and he was confused about why it happened.

Cline said he and his friends knew about the statue when coming to ECU and how popular and important it was to the ECU community as it had been part of the campus for about 22 years. He said he was able to take a picture with the statue with his family when he visited the campus during his senior year of high school.

After attending the PeeDee the Pirate statue memorial, Cline said it made him realize how important the statue was for the ECU campus and he felt the school pride that members of the ECU community had during the memorial. Cline said he felt a little more communication from the university about the plans for the statue following the arrest would’ve been helpful.

“The only thing that I really heard about was through the news and everything about how the kid got arrested and the statue was removed. That was pretty much it honestly,” Cline said. “So I feel like it could’ve been a little more communication about the next steps for it. If they’re going to get a new one (statue) or if it will be replaced or something like that.”

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