Is This Vandalism?

This week the local newspaper in my former home of Charlottesville, Virginia reported that the Lee statue had been vandalized.  I hope the perpetrators are caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.  I spent countless hours in that park with my students interpreting the monument and using the park to better understand how and why we have a need to remember our collective pasts.

Today I learned that three statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue are now adorned with “street art”, though the extent of the damage looks to be minimal.  Apparently, a local artist with a political bent decided to remind Richmond’s residents that the city’s past extends beyond the Confederate heroes that line this prominent street.

On the Stonewall Jackson monument is Gabriel.

“Blacksmith, slave, educated man, Gabriel sought liberty and an end to slavery with a large-scale rebellion in the city of Richmond during the summer of 1800. His plot was exposed and he was hanged along with 24 other slaves.”

On the Jefferson Davis monument is Barbara Johns, whose portrait is in the State Capitol building.

“As a sixteen-year-old in Farmville, VA John’s led a student strike in 1951 to protest racial segregation in her school. The resulting lawsuit became part of Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision ending segregation…”

On the J.E.B. Stuart monument are Mildred and Richard Loving.

“Interracial married couple, the Lovings were arrested and convicted in 1959, VA of miscegenation. They took their case to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 ruled in favor of the right for all Americans to have interracial marriages.”

As I’ve stated countless times on this blog, I have no patience for people who deface our public monuments.  At one time I may have been sympathetic with this type of alteration, but today there are numerous monuments and historical markers around the city that showcase its rich black past, including the Civil Rights Memorial located on the grounds of the state capital.  Like I said, I get it, but it just doesn’t have the same effect.

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52 comments… add one
  • Gregg Jones Feb 13, 2012 @ 7:28

    When history becomes unpopular and when a cause seems unjust what do you do? Two of the most popular ways to get rid of them is violently or peacefully. Violence has been used with horrible after effects (American Revolution, Civil War, Bonus Army-1932, Veitnam, etc). Most have been dealt with with non-violent ways (i.e. Prohibition was removed by the vote, Vietnam those opposed by some that used blood and pig heads, burnt the American Flag, and much more).

    No one remembers the Bonus Army of 1932 where veterans went to Washington DC to get the money they had been promised. And few can tell you how many were killed or wounded when the US Army rode over them with cavalry. Their cause was just but the US government got rid of them and it is now forgotten. This event will pass. It will be forgotten. I recommend that the Media does not publish it and it will end. Seriously, this is small compared to the past.

  • John Maass Feb 13, 2012 @ 5:06

    Kevin–speaking of the Lovings, there is a new article @ Mother Jones about the couple, in case you do not read MJ very much! Good luck with the job hunt. JRM

    • Kevin Levin Feb 13, 2012 @ 5:16

      Thanks, John.

  • Pat Young Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:22

    The discussion reminds me of my three visits with young people to Harpers Ferry. Each time we went to the Heyward Shepherd memorial. Shepherd was a black man killed by John Brown’s raiders. -The monument says, in part:

    “This boulder is erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a memorial to Heyward Shepherd, exemplifying the character and faithfulness of thousands of Negroes who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best of both races.”

    I used the visits to ask my young relatives about what biases were at work and whether the memorial was really about Shepherd at all. One time, when I was visiting with my own young children, a man pulled up in his pick-up, jumped out, and announced “There it is! I knew there was a memorial to the blacks who stayed loyal.” He then treated my sons to an explanation of how this stone recorded real history at odds with what the liberals would today have them believe about slavery.

    The problem with these Confederate monuments is that you actually have to know something about history (and memory) in order to interpret them or even question them.

    • James Harrigan Dec 18, 2011 @ 14:04

      wow Pat, I never heard about this execrable little piece of racist propaganda before. I suppose scrawling “RACIST B_LLSH_T” in red paint on this “memorial” would not be the most useful response, but I wouldn’t cry “vandalism” if someone did.

      • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2011 @ 14:06

        And I ask once again what this will accomplish.

        • James Harrigan Dec 18, 2011 @ 14:10

          And a reasonable question it is, Kevin. But these kinds of racist lies are far more obscene than any vandalism that anyone could commit against such a “memorial”.

          • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2011 @ 14:11

            You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but that doesn’t seem to me to be much of a response.

            • James Harrigan Dec 18, 2011 @ 14:33

              Kevin, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. This (very interesting) thread started as a discussion of what kind of public response to Lost Cause memorials is legit, and what is mere vandalism. I’m suggesting that’s an overly narrow farming of the issue, which should be: who gets to decide what messages take up our public space TODAY? Your view strikes me as giving too much privilege to the white supremacists who put up all the monuments in the first place. Just because they had that power once doesn’t entitle their “monuments” to deference for all time. I respect your scholarly approach to this, but I disagree – I’d rather see these monuments removed to a “Museum of Racism”.

              Now as a practical matter, defacing white supremacist monuments is no doubt a poor political strategy – the person who put the markers on the statues on Monument Avenue was far more intelligent and savvy than that. But I’m just not going to share your outrage if these statues DO get defaced. As was alluded to somewhere above, there is a world of difference between some idiot teenager scrawling his initials on the side of a building, and someone scrawling “not a hero” on a statue of Robert E. Lee. The former is pure vandalism, the latter is political activism. Not the most productive type of political activism, we can agree on that.

              • Ray O'Hara Dec 19, 2011 @ 1:21

                I just learned about this monument. one originally dedicated to John Wilkes Booth. It has an interesting story.

                and I somewhat agree a little with James that monuments and memorials sometimes do outlive their time and that just being old and “it’s always been there” isn’t enough to justify its remaining in a prominent public place. But I think the issue is fraught with trouble too and just tearing things down isn’t always the solution either.

              • Kevin Levin Dec 19, 2011 @ 3:44

                Thanks again for the response. I certainly don’t believe that deference to standing monuments is always justified, but I am still waiting to hear what would be accomplished in this particular scenario surrounding the monuments on Monument Avenue. What exactly do you think would be accomplished that could not achieved by adding to the landscape as in the case of the Arthur Ashe monument? Thanks.

                • Ray O'Hara Dec 19, 2011 @ 8:05

                  While Mr Ashe’s statue is nice, it is hardly a counter to the CSA statues, which I personally have no problems with, but then I’m not Black. how I’d feel in that case I can’t tell.
                  and is dueling statues the way to go? It is a complex issue and just throwing up and tearing down monuments doesn’t help anybody’s understanding.’

                  As you pointed out and on which point I agree , monuments are for the living not the past.

                  There is a monument to the victims of the Irish Famine here in Boston. I’m supposed to be supportive of it as they are ‘my people” but I couldn’t help feeling that putting up such things [and the Holocaust memorial too} to atrocities committed by other people in other lands is not our job.

                  But these memorials have vocal supporters and woe unto any who dared oppose them.

    • Bob Huddleston Dec 18, 2011 @ 17:59

      On the Plaza in Santa Fe is “The End of the Trail” monument, erected by the DAR in 1911. It has been years since I saw it and googling does not provide the exact verbiage, but, IIRC, it mentioned, among the trials and tribulations of the Santa Fe Trail, “savage Indians.” At some point it was chiseled out, leaving a scar. *That* is vandalism.

      In front of the Colorado state capitol building is a fine Civil War soldier statue, designed by Captain Jack Howland, veteran of the First Colorado and the Battle of Glorieta Pass. It was cast and erected in 1909. On the sides are lists of battles which involved the various Colorado regiments, among them Sand Creek. Howland was a strong supporter of Chivington and the others who defended the state against the Indian “savages.” A few years ago, instead of defacing the original monument, a subsidiary sign was erected nearby”

      “The controversy surrounding this Civil War Monument has become a symbol of Coloradans’ struggle to understand and take responsibility for our past. On November 29, 1864. Colorado’s First and Third Calvary, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, attacked Chief Black Kettle’s peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on the banks of Sand Creek, about 180 miles southeast of here. In the surprise attack, soldiers killed more than 150 of the villages 500 inhabitants. Most of the victims were elderly men, women and children.

      “Though some civilians and military personnel immediately denounced the attack as a massacre, others claimed the village was a legitimate target. This Civil War monument, paid for from funds by the Pioneers’ Association and State, was erected on July 24, 1909, to honor all Colorado Soldiers who had fought in battles in the Civil War and elsewhere. By Designating Sand Creek a battle, the monument’s designers mischaracterized the actual events. Protests led by some Sand Creek descendants and others throughout the twentieth century have led to the widespread recognition of the tragedy as the Sand Creek Massacre.”

      *That* is the way historical memory should be corrected!

      • Ray O'Hara Dec 19, 2011 @ 7:45

        “Peaceful” yes Indians were always peaceful in the Winter, Summer was the time for raiding. The mid-Winter raid was a tactic as old as anti-barbarian warfare.
        The Romans used it to suppress and pacify the Celts, who were also peaceful, in the Winter. And the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675 was such an attack by the men of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. It is how it’s done.

        What is ignored is how “peaceful” were the Indians the rest of the time.

      • Lyle Smith Dec 19, 2011 @ 8:47

        It’s interesting you bring up the historical memory of the Sand Creek massacre. I kind of think it would be progressive if someone, or some group, tried to tramp stamp the Lincoln Memorial with a plaque memorializing the Sand Creek massacre.

        Activists, forward march!

  • James Harrigan Dec 17, 2011 @ 17:19

    Lot’s of good comments here. I have just a few words to add.

    As Andy alludes to, the wave of Lost Cause monuments and commemoration that began after the final defeat of Reconstruction was deeply political. And the political message was White Supremacy: the political project of the Redeemer’s was a grudging acceptance of military defeat combined with an unbending insistence on White Supremacy. By putting up Confederate memorials, the Redeemers were making a (literally) concrete statement that the pre-war social and economic order was being reestablished as much as possible. Central to this was total political emasculation and public silencing of the freedmen and their descendants, and the Lost Cause was central to this. Among other things, Confederate memorials were a clear and unambiguous message to Southern blacks: we may have lost the war, but we have won the peace, and the brief moment of black suffrage and political power is over.

    While I would love to see the Monument Avenue statues removed, here’s my ultimate statue fantasy: an enormous, militaristic monument depicting USCT regiments marching into Richmond in April 1865. Supplemented, perhaps, with an intimate, human-scale depiction of Lincoln’s arrival in Richmond, surrounded by grateful newly-emancipated American citizens.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2011 @ 2:42

      Thanks for the follow up, James. This has been an interesting discussion. I think your reference to the “Redeemers” prevents us from acknowledging the wide range of people from various backgrounds that were involved in the erection of monuments throughout the South. Of course, they were all white, but there are some wonderful photographs of African Americans pulling the base of the Lee statue into position. In other words the black community was involved and understanding their involvement tells us much about the racial dynamic of the city. We lose access to the past when we tear things down. I’ve always been a proponent of interpretation as a means to deeper self-understanding as a community.

      Your monument to USCTs in Richmond sounds like a wonderful idea and right now there is no need to tear down anything to make it a reality. That is the mark of progress. Not that you can tear down something to make way for it.

    • Dudley Bokoski Dec 18, 2011 @ 6:53

      There is a monument to Lincoln in Richmond at the NPS Headquarters at the old Tredegar Iron Works. And it caused quite a bit of discussion and some hostility when it went up in 2003. I’ve not been back to that location there since it went up, but if I remember what I’ve read it is a statue of Lincoln and his son.

      In order to determine whether there was a political motivation for individual monuments I think you have to look at several things. Who paid for it? What was said at the dedication? When was it put up? What was going on politically at the time?

      Not discounting that some monuments may of had a political intent, but most of the ones I’ve seen North and South have tended to honor the regiments raised in whatever community the monument went up in. It is not surprising to see these go up in the later part of the 1800’s as veterans (and there were alot of them) got into their 50’s and the local economies recovered enough to allow some sort of commemoration.

      It’s like the old quote from Freud. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” And sometimes, regardless of what meaning the generations afterward placed on it, a monument is just a monument.

      • Bob Huddleston Dec 18, 2011 @ 19:18

        My favorite violator of Godwin’s Law is Bragdon Bowling, the Virginia commander of the SCV. He personally led the protests against the statues of Abe and Tad erected in Richmond. In the process he managed to compare Jefferson Davis to Adolph Hitler (I guess that makes Lee the equal of Jodl):

        “Prior to the ceremony, 80-100 protesters, many members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, assembled at the grave of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, where 18,000 soldiers and many of the Confederacy’s military, political and civic leaders are also buried. Denouncing the statue as an insult to the Confederacy, Virginia’s SCV commander Bragdon Bowling stated to the crowd that, ‘They have no concept of history and how it might be the wrong place to put the statue. As a Southerner, I’m offended. You wouldn’t put a statue of Winston Churchill in downtown Berlin, would you? What’s next, a statue of Sherman in Atlanta?’”
        Camp Talk, Blue Gray Magazine, Summer 2003, p. 32

        As an American I was offended.

        BTW, I checked: there is no statue of Churchill – or FDR for that matter – in Berlin, but there are streets named for both.

        • Ray O'Hara Dec 19, 2011 @ 7:49

          Didn’t they also compare it to placing a statue of Hitler in Tel Aviv.

  • Ben Railton Dec 17, 2011 @ 17:09

    Hi Kevin et al,

    I’m late to this conversation, and much of what I would have said has been said and said well by folks like Andy.

    But I will add that I would disagree a bit with your description of the Richmond “vandal” as of “a political bent.” I’d say instead that this person is of a historical bent, and specifically of the perspective–as am I–that one of the most important ways to engage with our histories is to put voices in conversation with one another. For that reason, I sometimes think that just constructing new monuments to other histories and figures, while of course valuable, is less dialogic than ideal, can just create a sense of distinct cultures and communities and histories (rather than of the interconnections between all these figures and histories and voices).

    So to my mind, this is entirely a historical, not a political, act–and one that I very much support.


    • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2011 @ 3:17

      For that reason, I sometimes think that just constructing new monuments to other histories and figures, while of course valuable, is less dialogic than ideal, can just create a sense of distinct cultures and communities and histories (rather than of the interconnections between all these figures and histories and voices).

      That’s a really good point, but I don’t think that is the case with Richmond given the location of many of the most recent additions to the landscape. The Arthur Ashe monument is on Monument Avenue and the new Civil Rights Memorial is on the capital grounds. The location encourages reflection on the various and often conflicting narratives.

  • Lyle Smith Dec 17, 2011 @ 4:50

    It’s not vandalism, but there is often something ridiculous about people picking on the memory of dead people to make a modern point.

    They didn’t destroy the statues at least… but maybe that’s the political expression that will come next.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 4:52

      Like I said, I see this as a fairly benign expression, but it just falls flat given the recent additions to Richmond’s historic landscape.

    • Andy Hall Dec 17, 2011 @ 7:21

      “It’s not vandalism, but there is often something ridiculous about people picking on the memory of dead people to make a modern point.”

      You show me any Confederate monument put up in the South from the 1880s on, and I’ll show you a monument that uses the memory of dead people to make a [then-] modern point of its own. Kevin has pointed out many times that monuments (or any sort, not just Confederate) are only partly about the people and events they ostensibly commemorate; they also say a lot about how their sponsors wanted others, then and later, to view those events. This is unquestionably agit-prop, as James says about, but not necessarily more so than the monument to which it’s attached. It’s just a lot later, and on a much smaller budget. 😉

      • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 7:32

        You are absolutely right, Andy. Monuments tell us much more about the individual[s] and society responsible than they do about the event itself.

      • Lyle Smith Dec 17, 2011 @ 8:13

        I can’t really disagree with you.

      • Margaret D. Blough Dec 17, 2011 @ 8:43

        Andy-Unless the subject of the statue and/or monument was alive and approved of or sponsored it (such as Roman Emperors), it says nothing about the individual. I’m not a Lee or Jackson worshiper but I can’t see either being comfortable with the idea of humungous statues being raised to them (or in Lee’s case, Lee’s quasi-royal/quasi-saint’s tomb effigy on his tomb). In Lee’s case, he had little or no independent money apart from his military salary but he did have the Lee name and unquestioned FFV status and a certain restraint that that produced in his behavior was part of what made Lee who he was (Even if, somewhere deep inside he was a raging egomaniac, it wouldn’t have been a DONE thing in his circles ever to admit it to anyone like McClellan did). In Jackson’s case, his very austere form of Presbyterianism was a fundamental part of who he was, for good and/or for ill. The statues (particularly “Stonewall on Steroids” at Manassas NB), IMHO, would smack of idolatry to him.

        • Andy Hall Dec 17, 2011 @ 10:14

          Hater. 😉

          • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 10:44

            Perhaps I should use this occasion to state publicly that I fully support any future monument that might be raised in my memory. 🙂

            • Roger E Watson Dec 18, 2011 @ 6:01

              Where do we send the donations ! 🙂

        • Dudley Bokoski Dec 17, 2011 @ 11:56

          On the other hand, the horse on the Jackson monument at Manassas was probably really pleased with how it turned out.

  • Dudley Bokoski Dec 17, 2011 @ 2:42

    Mr Harrison believes Monument Avenue to be a conscious and deliberate attempt to promote white supremacy. Like any public art it can be interpreted differently by different people at different times and probably was seen that way at some points during the civil rights movement. But the history of the monuments shows this not to be their original intent. If I remember correctly they were part of a plan to promote residential lots in what was then undeveloped land. They played on the Lost Cause narrative for sure. But they were built when there were still many living veterans. They were seen by them as tributes to icons of the war and by proxy to the men who served under them.

    As a side note. Richmond briefly had one of the first professional baseball teams in the 1800s and they played in Allens field. Which was not then in the city. Where the Stuart monument is was about where third base was. The whole area was farm land back then.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 2:56

      I agree. I think it’s a much more complex story than simply reducing the origin of the statues to white supremacy. You draw what I take to be the correct distinction between how any one individual may interpret the statues today and the reasons for their initial placement.

  • JMRudy Dec 16, 2011 @ 20:47

    What started as a short reply quickly ran out of control and became a blog post over at our site, rather than clogging up your comment streams with a long epistle here.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 2:34

      Thanks for the link. Please note that I did change the title of the post right after posting it.

      • JMRudy Dec 17, 2011 @ 4:19

        Looks like wordpress takes a while to update the RSS after you edit a post, so I was working off of the original and not the new draft. That seems to happen every so often. I’ll see an intriguing title and first few sentences for one of your posts, then click through to a 404 error, where you’ve since pulled the post or edited its location.

        • Kevin Levin Dec 17, 2011 @ 4:20

          Sorry about that. I sometimes click the publish button before I should. 🙂

  • John B. Dec 16, 2011 @ 17:26

    “At one time I may have been sympathetic with this type of alteration, but today there are numerous monuments and historical markers around the city that showcase its rich black past.” So, it was OK to deface Confederate monuments in the past but now that there are “numerous monuments” to the “rich black past” it’s not OK to deface Confederate monuments? Is that right?

    • Kevin Levin Dec 16, 2011 @ 18:04

      Go back and read the post carefully. At no time do I justify the defacing of historic monuments nor have I ever done so on this blog.

    • Andy Hall Dec 17, 2011 @ 7:31

      I take exception to the word “deface” in this case. To me, “deface” suggests something more permanent and damaging than these examples seem to be — say, something done with spray paint or a hammer. No one here would find that acceptable.

      These homemade plaques appear to be simply clamped on the fence, in a way little more complex (and no more destructive) than tying on a banner. As I said above, this suggests to me that whoever did this was just as serious about not harming the monuments as he/she was about making his/her own point.

  • Pat Young Dec 16, 2011 @ 17:23

    Looks like the artist went out of her way to avoid damaging the statues. The text doesn’t even attack the men the statues represent. Looks like they primarily offer an alternative set of people to emulate.

    Two of the three made their political points non-violently, something we can’t say of the three white men. Lovings’ plaque offers a vision of love across racial lines.

    Gabriel’s fate tells us what Southern slaveholders thought the punishment for rebellion ought to be.

  • Larry Cebula Dec 16, 2011 @ 14:00

    This is how public spaces are contested–or is one of the ways. It is very similar to the episode in 1988 (I think?) when leaders of AIM illegally installed their own anti-Custer plaque at Little Big Horn. At the time one of the arguments against the Indian action was that even if the public monuments at LBH all glorified Custer, a more balanced narrative was presented at the Visitor’s Center, so everything was fine.

    But of course everything was not fine, the masses of polished rock dedicated to a man whom Indians rightly considered a genocidal monster far outweighed whatever plastic interpretive panels were available in a building down the hill. Eventually AIMs actions led to the creation of the moving Indian Memorial at LBH.

    I have no sympathy for spray paint or sledge hammers, but I think that these counter-memorials in Richmond are pretty cool, in an Occupy Civil War Memory sort of way.

  • James Harrigan Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:46

    No Kevin, this is not vandalism. It is politics, public art, agit-prop, and I’m delighted to see it. As you know, Monument Avenue is a conscious and deliberate monument to white supremacy, and as a Virginian I find it infuriating and embarrassing. More power to whoever did this, I hope they keep it up. If it some day leads the voters of the City of Richmond to decide to remove the Monument Avenue statues, it would be a great thing.

    The Lee Park scrawl is a different story, but I have a hard time finding it any more objectionable than any other graffiti. One of the things I liked about Occupy Charlottesville is that they turned a monument to white supremacy into a space that challenges our time’s inequities. The vandal of Lee Park was misguided, but seemingly motivated by a political sentiment that I support.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 16, 2011 @ 14:08

      Thanks for the comment, James.

      As you know, Monument Avenue is a conscious and deliberate monument to white supremacy…

      While I agree that Monument Avenue reflects white control of local government, the monuments themselves represent much more that “white supremacy.”

      I fail to see what would be accomplished in removing anything along MA, including the Arthur Ashe monument. These spaces tell us a great deal about our past and present depending on how we choose to use them. Richmond’s civil rights history can be explored by touring its various public historic spaces from MA to the very grounds of the state capital. What possible good can come from tearing things down?

      As for the C-Ville Occupy Movement I have no problem with using Lee Park to make a statement about the inequality of wealth or anything else for that matter. Just keep your dirty hands off the monument. It doesn’t belong to any one individual.

  • Andy Hall Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:17

    No doubt the usual suspects will get their butternut panties in a twist over this incident, because righteous outrage is their thing, but it’s exactly the same sort of snarky protest they themselves have applauded in the past. I can’t see this particular thing — which shows planning, foresight, and a message — as falling under the rubric of “vandalism” in the same way the Lee Park grafitti does, or a similar recent incident in Missouri. It just isn’t the same, and does no physical damage that I can see. While the person(s) behind this obviously chose these three sites carefully, he or she also went to a lot of trouble (see the second pic int he album at the third link) to do it in a way that didn’t harm the integrity of the monuments. That in itself shows a certain respect for the monuments, even if the intent is explicitly to counter their narrative.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:19

      I completely agree and in the spirit of yesterday’s post such incidents can be quite useful in the classroom.

    • Margaret D. Blough Dec 16, 2011 @ 16:32

      Excellent points, Andy. It is important as to whether the additional material damages the monument or can be removed without incident. In the former case, even if I sympathize with the cause, I can’t sympathize with the action. It’s a slippery slope on which to embark.

      I also feel strongly against damaging monuments because, in 1998, spray paint vandals hit James Longstreet’s gravesite which includes not only the General’s monument but the graves of his first wife and other family members. I don’t believe the perpetrator(s) were ever apprehended but they made a crude attempt to slur the local Black and Latino communities by spray painting tags from the local black and Latino gangs. Police gang experts quickly dismissed any gang link. Not only were both gangs’ symbols used (no gang member would ever use the other’s symbols) but the tags were badly misspelled and crudely drawn. I was there when a volunteer who had consulted with historic cemetery experts in Atlanta cleaned it off and did an excellent job. I was with Longstreet’s granddaughter Jamie Longstreet Paterson and her son Dan (they’d given me a lift to the birthplace marker dedication in SC and then we’d done a side trip to Gainesville, GA, where she had grown up(. The volunteer did an excellent job but it was infuriating. These were graves being desecrated/

  • Ray O'Hara Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:21

    that of course begs the question is any vandalism appropriate.

    the reason behind the vandalism though can help find the perpetrator.

    the Charlottesville was most likely an occupier who would have put it on whatever was handy, in this case a Lee statue, but I’m sure any statue or flat surface would have sufficed.

    the Monument Ave, one is as you point out specifically targeting a Confederate monument to make a point..

    The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston was for years one of the most defaced monuments in the city and it was just mindless graffiti by unthinking fools, Shaw’s sword was also routinely stolen by fraternities as a “prank” or pledge challenge. The movie Glory seems to have awakened people to the reason for the memorial cutting down the defacing and the fraternities have moved on to stealing one of the Make Way for Ducklings pieces. Frat boys are notorious for being jerks and stealing a duckling really upsets children who are brought to see them, that is pretty low.

    in Ct on my way to Lime Rock Park to see the sportscar races I’d pass the John Seddgewick monument and every bit of copper/bronze had been pried off, I stopped to examine it and the pry bar marks were clearly visible, onlt the fact Sedgewick was carved into the granite gave a hint as to who was being honored. In this case it was obvious theft and not just mindless vandalism was the motive. My last time by it was still in its sad state and no repairs were done.

    Grant’s Tomb was well known target of graffiti “artists” again this was just mindlessness and the tomb was targeted because it had good flat sides and no politics are animosity towards Grant was involved.

    Years back{1980s} in Cambridge Ma there was a kid on trial for graffiti who had so arrests and so many violations that added up they would have equaled a life sentence in prison, the “artist” was totally unrepentent and felt he had a right to express himself.

    I recall he was fined and got probation and while life in prison for graffiti seems harsh I was hoping he’d get at least some jail time just to send a message.

    It’s ugly, it’s disrespectful and it needs to be dealt with

    Sometimes it seems we can’t have anything nice.

  • Scott MacKenzie Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:08

    It looks more like redemption to me, if you’ll pardon the term.

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