INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis will remove from a park a monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died at a Union prison camp in the city, the mayor announced Thursday.
The grave monument, which was relocated to Garfield Park nearly a century ago from its original location in a cemetery, will be dismantled by contractors in the coming days, Mayor Joe Hogsett said.
“Our streets are filled with voices of anger and anguish, testament to centuries of racism directed at Black Americans,” Hogsett said in a news release. “We must name these instances of discrimination and never forget our past – but we should not honor them.
“Whatever original purpose this grave marker might once have had, for far too long it has served as nothing more than a painful reminder of our state’s horrific embrace of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago,” he said.
The monument was commissioned in 1912 in Greenlawn Cemetery to commemorate Confederate prisoners of war who died while imprisoned at Camp Morton in Indianapolis. It was moved to Garfield Park in 1928 following efforts by public officials active in the Klan who sought to “make the monument more visible to the public,” the news released said.
The Indianapolis Parks Board passed a resolution in 2017 to remove the monument once funding was secured, but that never happened. The city is identifying a source of funding, with the expected cost of the project ranging from approximately $50,000 to $100,000, Hogsett said.
The parks resolution came after an Indianapolis man was arrested for vandalizing the memorial following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, fueled by that city’s proposal to remove Confederate statues there. A woman died during the rally.
Hogsett announced the move on the same day that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will be removed as soon as possible from Richmond's Monument Avenue. That came after days of angry protests in Indianapolis, Richmond and across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck while he pleaded for air.