MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Authorities have recovered a Confederate monument that had been stolen in Alabama and was the subject of a ransom note threatening to convert it into a toilet, New Orleans police confirmed Friday.
A spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department wrote in an email that “we can confirm that we recovered the chair” and that two people have been arrested on charges of possession of stolen property. Investigators are also searching for another suspect. Police said the monument was “seemingly undamaged” and will be given back to its owners.
The strange saga began March 20 when a representative of the United Daughters of the Confederacy reported to police that the “Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair” had gone missing from a Selma, Alabama, cemetery. The monument has no direct connection to Davis but is shaped like a chair and sat in a private section of the cemetery with other Confederate monuments.
Someone sent an email signed “White Lies Matter” to news outlets Monday claiming responsibility and saying the chair would be returned only if the United Daughters of the Confederacy agreed to display a banner at their Virginia headquarters bearing a quote from a Black Liberation Army activist. The Associated Press could not confirm the authenticity of the claim.
The email address later sent photos of someone wearing Confederate garb posing on a chair, that looked like the missing one, with a hole cut out. A later email said that chair was fake and the real chair was being returned unscathed.
“Obviously, we had always intended to return the chair,” the email read, saying the entire caper was intended to make a point.
“Because the common thread between now and then is the criminal justice system. That’s where the racial caste system is preserved today, much like these monuments. Why did we steal a chair? To make a point. To redirect the conversation back to what matters, people, not property. ”
New Orleans police say Stanley Warnick and Kathryn Diionno were arrested for having stolen property in their possession and authorities are searching for a man named Stanley Pate. It was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys who could comment.
Michael Jackson, the district attorney in Selma, said officials are continuing to investigate who took the chair.