MONTGOMERY, Ala. – An “anti-racist action group” claims responsibility and holds for ransom a stone chair, dedicated to Jefferson Davis, stolen from a cemetery in Selma, Alabama, last month.
According to an email from the group “White Lies Matter”, the chair was taken from the cemetery about a month ago. Selma Police Chief Kenta Fulford confirmed his department had received a report that the president was robbed.
Instead of cash, however, the group asked the United Daughters of Confederation to hang a banner outside their Virginia headquarters for 24 hours, starting April 9, with a quote from Assata Shakur. April 9 is the 156th anniversary of the surrender of Robert E. Lee in Appomattox, Virginia.
“The leaders of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives,” says the banner that the group sent to the SVP.
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Shakur was a former member of the Black Liberation Army, convicted of murder in 1977, escaped prison in 1979 and remains free despite being wanted by the FBI after being granted political asylum in Cuba. .
In the notice the group sent on Monday, they wrote about the tension between “our heritage of white supremacy and our underlying belief in ‘freedom and justice for all’.”
“America’s original sin is that people were taken from their homes and forced to build one of the most prosperous nations in the world, without being allowed to participate,” the letter says. “… We decided, in the spirit of such ignominious traditions, to kidnap a chair instead. Jefferson Davis doesn’t need it anymore. He’s been dead a long time ago. To be honest, he never even did. got a chance to sit in there. first place. “
The chair was first noticed missing on March 19, Selma’s pilgrimage weekend, according to social media posts. There is a $ 5,000 award leading to information about the chair’s disappearance, described as being about 3 feet tall and weighing several hundred pounds.
The Ladies of Selma presented the stone chair in memory of Jefferson Davis in 1893, more than 20 years after his last visit to the city. Before being stolen, the chair was on display in Confederate Circle which covers about an acre in the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma.
Time passed, the monument showed details of ferns, tree trunks and branches. An inscription titled “Here We Rest” on the back of the chair and a dedication to Davis were visible on the seat.
The chair is not the first memorial to be taken from the Confederate circle. After a bust of Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest was vandalized and covered in rubbish, it was moved from city property to the Confederate Circle. It was from there that Forrest’s bronze bust was stolen never to be found. Friends of Forrest, a local band, had the bust replaced.
In 2011, Selma City Council sold the property surrounding the Confederate Circle to the United Daughters of Confederation. In addition to several Confederate monuments, the property exhibits artillery pieces from the Spanish-American War as well as other military monuments.
“We took their toy and we don’t feel guilty,” says the group’s letter.
In email correspondence with the group, they said they had planned to take the presidency since last fall. They chose Shakur’s quote to highlight what the group says is a “wrinkle in the argument surrounding Confederate monuments.”
“Many in this country seem more concerned with violence against things than violence against people,” the group said.
If the SVP does not hang the banner, the group has announced its intention to “transform the chair into a toilet”.
“If they display the banner, not only will we make the chair intact, but we will clean it up to boot,” the group said. “For all this talk about heritage, they really didn’t care about it.”
As of Monday afternoon, the group had not heard from the SVP regarding their request. Efforts to reach both the national section and Selma of the SVP were unsuccessful.
Follow Montgomery Advertiser reporter Kirsten Fiscus on Twitter: @KDFiscus
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