A 10-ton monument to Confederate soldiers at Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery that has for years been frequently defaced amid calls for its removal was toppled over the Fourth of July weekend.
It’s unclear who took down the structure, which was erected in 1926 by a local chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy and marks the location of the burial plot for Confederate soldiers. Yellow lifting straps were left under the two stone columns, which were made with granite taken from Stone Mountain in Georgia, known for its own massive Confederate memorial.
Above a pair of crossed muskets and an oval, metal relief of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s profile, Seattle’s memorial reads:
“In Memory of The United Confederate Veterans
erected by Robert E. Lee
Chapter Number 885
United Daughters of the Confederacy
The memorial had been defaced earlier this year, as demonstrations began after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck May 25.
Cemetery workers have said previously they “try to keep it low profile.” The cemetery is better known for the graves of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon, and neighbors the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery, where Civil War veterans are buried.
A bronze plaque of Gen. Lee’s head was stolen in 2005, according to Capitol Hill Seattle, but was eventually restored.
In 2017, Lake View Cemetery briefly closed “due to the controversy over Confederate memorials,” and then-Mayor Ed Murray called for the monument to be taken down, along with a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Fremont. An online petition at the time gathered 5,701 signatures calling for Murray to order the removal of the cemetery’s monument.
Murray’s statements echoed groups across the nation in denouncing Confederate monuments, memorials and historical markers after events in Charlottesville, Virginia, when three people were killed as protesters clashed over the removal of a statue of Gen. Lee.
Confederate memorials — along with statues and structures for other historical figures whose achievements have been included in history books with little mention of how they oppressed others — have been defaced and destroyed across the United States as protests against police brutality continue.
In Portland, demonstrators toppled a statue of Thomas Jefferson last month. A statue of Christopher Columbus was set on fire and thrown in a lake in Virginia, and a statue of Juan de Onate was removed in New Mexico after tensions there led to violence.
In February 2019, a Southern Poverty Law Center study said more than 100 Confederate monuments or symbols in public had been removed from public spaces in the nation since the 2015 murder of nine Black victims at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The same study said more than 1,700 monuments, place names and symbols still stood since the shooting.