by Marcus Harrison Green
A group of local activists supportive of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement has taken credit for toppling a nearly century-old monument to Confederate Civil War veterans at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle.
First erected in 1926 by The United Daughters of the Confederacy, the granite monument was a product of the Lost Cause movement — a propaganda campaign of historical revisionism employing school textbooks and memorials to shift attitudes toward the Confederacy after the U.S. Civil War.
The “Daughters” had the granite for the monument shipped in from Stone Mountain, GA, which is the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan.
In advancing the Lost Cause Doctrine, groups like the “Daughters” used statues such as the one in Lake View to heroicize Confederate soldiers and also to serve as forbidding symbols of white supremacy to intimidate newly freed Black Americans.
While protestors had petitioned for its removal and city officials had spoken out against the monument over the years, they had little power to remove it, as Lake View Cemetery is privately owned.
Though the monument has been repeatedly vandalized and defaced, including an incident in 2018 when parts of the memorial were busted, it had stood mostly intact for 94 years.
That was until later Friday night/early Saturday morning when local activists decided to take matters into their own hands, toppling the nearly 10-ton structure.
The activists took credit for the toppling in an email sent to the Emerald at 12:12 a.m Saturday, before news of their actions broke:
This monument to the Confederate traitors, who so cherished the practice of enslaving their fellow human beings that they started a war to defend it, has been a blight on our community for far too long. There is no place for monuments such as these in the More Perfect Union, the America that must surely come, for that nation cannot be born until it makes full recompense to the descendants of those enslaved and ceases to justify or cover up its brutal past.
This action is for everyone, living or dead, who has been stolen, murdered, enslaved, raped, tortured, brutalized, terrorized, displaced, incarcerated, colonized, exploited, or separated from land, family, and culture by white supremacy. May the memory of those who have gone home be a blessing to us all, and may their descendants know the peace of true and everlasting justice.
Other than saying they were a “group of concerned citizens” worried about “racism in Seattle and in general,” the group did not specifically identify themselves through a spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous.
However, they did say that they consulted with multiple experts and used gear that was rated to move objects that weigh several tons — and they cautioned others about the dangers of tackling similar monuments and suggested taking safety precautions before toppling them.
Seattle City Council Member Tammy Morales, who represents South Seattle, was supportive of the action.
“This monument wasn’t erected to memorialize the deaths of particular individuals. It was erected at a time when Black communities were being terrorized by the KKK in an effort to keep people down. It’s way past time for these monuments to racism to come down,” Morales said in a text to the Emerald.
The Emerald has reached out to representatives of Lake View Cemetery for comment.