ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A new billboard is echoing calls for a Confederate soldier to be taken down.
The billboard is just east of the Grand River on M-45, Lake Michigan Drive near Allendale. It was paid for by "Allendale for Equality", which is described as a group of people living in Allendale Township working toward a more inclusive community.
The billboard shows the township's Civil War statue with the message, "Remove the racist confederate statue."
The group's website is a single page, solely focused on the Civil War monument inside Allendale Township's Veteran's Garden of Honor.
“This is really more about trying to create and form a more inclusive community in Allendale, a sense of place in a park where anybody can go and feel welcome," said Jeanine Gasper, one of the people who contributed to the billboard.
“When you look at the statue you don’t see harmony, you see an imbalance, you see a power hierarchy," said Phoebe Risk. “Are we trying to perpetrate this idea that the confederate cause was heroic and just? Or are we willing to admit the real history, the real truthwhich is that people of color stood up in the Civil War and took their own rights, it was not handed to them by either side.”
The billboard is the latest attempt to remove the statue. The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists previously organized demonstrations and petitions against the memorial.
In June the township board voted to keep the statue as is, saying the representation of a Union and Confederate solider depicts the involvement of Americans on both sides of the conflict.