ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A controversial Civil War statue will stay put for now after the township board of trustees did not take formal action at their meeting Monday.
Allendale Charter Township Supervisor Adam Elenbaas held a press conference Tuesday morning to update the community on the topic.
After hours of public comment, the board members voiced their opinions, saying they want to keep the statues in the park, as they are a piece of history.
The board will now hold a special board meeting next Tuesday, June 30, to vote on a resolution to keep the statues in the park.
Monday night's meeting lasted well into the night and saw dozens of residents step up to the podium during the public comment period. It started off with a very contentious back and forth between those who want the statue to stay and those who want it gone.
Speakers in favor of keeping the statue vastly outnumbered those who asked for its removal.
“The statue is placed in an exhibit marked garden of hono,” Allendale Township Resident Kim Canata, said. "No matter what the artist's intention was, there should be no honor given to the Confederate side. they were treasonous and wanted to keep people as ownership. This is not a very welcoming and inviting message to people of color as they enter and explore our town."
“This is my sister's statue,” Barb Glass said. "She put it up, she made them, and it breaks my heart that this is happening. I’m sorry, but I hate those guys for doing this to her … she took her bare hands and did it for the township of Allendale."
The statue in question is in Allendale Community Park just off Lake Michigan Drive in the Veterans Garden of Honor.
The statue depicts a Union soldier holding a U.S. flag, standing back to back with a Confederate soldier holding a Confederate flag.
At their feet is a black child holding a sign that reads, “Freedom to slaves.”
The group Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists started this debate a couple of weeks ago by asking the township board to take down the statue, which they say is highly offensive in how it portrays black people and how it puts Confederate soldiers on a pedestal. Others argue that it outlines a part of history that should be remembered not removed.
While the board made no formal decision, each member expressed that they had no desire to remove or change the statue itself in any way.