Allendale Twp. board votes to keep controversial statue

Ottawa County

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A controversial statue of a Confederate soldier will stay put after the Allendale Township board voted to keep it during a meeting Monday night.

In a 5-2 vote, the board passed a motion for the statue to stay in its current location in the Garden of Honor and be repaired from any damage done to it over the past year.

The board’s decision goes against the recommendation of the citizen committee to remove and replace the statue. The committee, which was created by the board, gave their recommendation during last month’s meeting. 

People have been debating and protesting about it for a year. Last summer, the board voted that it would stay.

Before and after Monday’s vote, community members on both sides of the debate weighed in during the public comment potions of the meeting. 

A statue in Allendale Township depicts a young slave below images of Confederate and Union soldiers. (June 14, 2021)

A few board members mentioned that it’s the input from the public that helped shaped their decision for the statue to stay.

“After looking over all the viewpoints that have been expressed to me both during public comment and outside of public comment, it’s been made very clear to me that the majority of our residents wish for the Civil War statue to remain in the garden of honor,” Township Clerk Jody Hansen said. 

Allendale Township Supervisor Adam Elenbaas was one of the two members to vote against the motion to keep the statue where it is. Instead, Elenbaas was in favor of relocating the statue to a local museum. 

“I think there’s also a way to preserve history, simply by moving it,” Elenbaas said. 

A statue in Allendale Township depicts a young slave below images of Confederate and Union soldiers. (June 14, 2021)

A motion backing Elenbaas’ viewpoint was put to a vote during Monday’s meeting but failed.

Before concluding the meeting, the board expressed interest in gathering more information on what it would entail to expand the Garden of Honor and potentially include an additional Civil War statue.

Activists and community members that have fought for the removal of the statue were upset over the board’s decision, saying they plan to have future demonstrations pushing for it to be taken down. 

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