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Controversial statue in Allendale Garden of Honor to stay as is following vote

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 05:39:26-04

ALLENDALE, Mich. — A controversial Civil War statue in Allendale will remain as is following a decision on Monday.

In a 5-2 vote, the Allendale Board of Trustees decided to keep the statue, which depicts a Confederate and Union soldier standing side-by-side with a slave child at their feet, and repair damage done to it over the past year.

Township supervisor Adam Elenbaas and trustee Barb VanderVeen voted against the motion.

Last summer, several dozen community members and activist groups began calling for its removal, saying the statue is racist and offensive.

Those protests prompted the formation of an advisory committee, which recommended last month to remove and replace the statue with another statue of three Union soldiers from West Michigan. The committee also suggested expanding the Garden of Honor, where the Civil War statue is, to include service members representing other wars, like the War of 1812, and add QR codes to each of the statues with more information.

Several trustees spoke against the recommendation, listing individual conversations with community members and not wanting to rewrite history as the reasons why.

A motion to instead move the statue to a nearby museum, seen as a compromise, was proposed, but ultimately failed.

Thereafter, a trustee introduced the motion which passed.

The board made no decision on other elements of the committee’s recommendation, like the garden’s expansion, but said it may be brought up in the future.