ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A controversial statue in Allendale displaying a Confederate and Union soldier together with a young slave looked different Thursday night.
Mitch Kahle of the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, who is spearheading the effort to remove the statue, told News 8 that people covered the statue in a plastic bag and stuck notes calling the statue racist.
“My wife and I were just driving by and we saw people — I think there were three people — putting a big covering over the two soldiers,” said Doug Smith of Allendale, who witnessed the act.
News 8 caught up with one of the activists responsible.
“There are hundreds of examples of monuments, not only the Civil War but various conflicts all over the world, that have managed to do that without depictions of secessionist traitors,” said Ty Volpo of Grand Rapids.
One such note reads, “This is a glorification of a racist past that has no place in a public space.”
The idea of immortalizing those that fought to defend slavery, divide the Union and killed US soldiers inspired Volpo to take matters into his own hands.
Volpo said he decided on a non-damaging approach to protest, feeling that change was already coming.
“We wanted to give the township association and community a chance to do the right thing,” he said. “Be on the right side of history rather than cause any undue civil strife at this time.”
It’s a topic that continues to have a question mark long after the guns went quiet in 1865.
“There’s so much controversy nowadays, I don’t really know,” Smith said. “It’s part of history and you really can’t change history. It’s there whether the statue is down or not.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group who supports the statue told News 8 in a statement, “Confederate flags & monuments have largely been viewed as positive symbols around the globe. We, the Michigan Camps of the SCV, wholeheartedly condemn any and all efforts to remove Confederate flags, monuments & symbols from the public eye.”
They say any effort to remove the statue, and other like it, is “an attack on the honorable heritage of over 70-million Americans of every race & creed who carry the blood of Confederate veterans in their veins.”
Friday morning, the statues were uncovered, everything has been removed and they appear to be left undamaged.
The township is meeting to discuss the future of these statues Monday at 7 p.m. at the township hall along Lake Michigan Drive.
There will be time for public comment.