Government & Politics

Effort to remove Confederate monument in St. Louis is gaining crowdfunding

This 32-foot granite monument honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors has stood in St. Louis’ Forest Park since 1914, but St. Louis officials hope to have the monument removed.
This 32-foot granite monument honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors has stood in St. Louis’ Forest Park since 1914, but St. Louis officials hope to have the monument removed.

St. Louis may soon join the growing list of cities removing monuments to the Confederacy.

City Treasurer Tishaura Jones created a GoFundMe account Wednesday to raise money for the removal of a Confederate monument in Forest Park.

“TAKE IT DOWN ST. LOUIS,” reads the description on the page, next to an image of the monument. Though no other information is given, the entreaty was enough to garner more than $5,000 of a $25,000 goal in its first 20 hours.

Jones joins Mayor Lyda Krewson in calling for the removal of the 32-foot-tall monument. Dedicated in 1914, it features a bronze tablet depicting a Confederate soldier leaving his family for the Civil War. An angel hovers above them. An inscription reads that the monument was erected “in memory of the soldiers and sailors of the Confederate States By the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Saint Louis.”

The city has in the past said removal would be cost-prohibitive, a statement from Jones’ office said, so the treasurer took to the crowdfunding site in an attempt to raise the necessary funds for removal.

“Treasurer Jones believes that this monument has no place in Forest Park and needs to be removed and should have been done so years ago,” said a statement from Jones’ office.

As of Thursday morning, nearly 150 people agreed with Jones enough to donate to the cause, but others on the GoFundMe page voiced their opposition.

“This is ridiculous. It is a part of history. We have better things to spend money on,” wrote Vicki Kremer.

Others wrote that more pressing issues face the city and expressed anger that a public official would take up this cause.

But Adair O’Brien defended the push for the monument’s removal.

“This is history ‘get over it’ You wouldn’t be saying these things to the Germans when they removed all the Nazi era things from their country,” O’Brien wrote. “Only in AmeriKKKa will we be proud of and defend bigotry.”

Krewson also wants the monument removed as soon as possible and is looking into engineering options to take it down, Eddie Roth, the city’s director of human services, said earlier this week.

The mayor’s spokesman, Koran Addo, said there is no timetable for removal of the statue, but the mayor wants it done soon. He said the mayor’s office doesn’t believe the removal needs the Board of Aldermen’s approval. Krewson, a Democrat, was elected and took office in April.

Other cities also are grappling with what to do about monuments and statues honoring the Confederacy and its soldiers and leaders.

New Orleans recently removed two of four statues honoring Confederate-era figures. And plans to take away a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a torch-carrying protest by white nationalists over the weekend and scuffles at a follow-up gathering denouncing that demonstration.

In Orlando, Florida, commissioners are discussing whether to remove a statue recognizing Confederate veterans from a downtown park, despite the objections of Confederate flag-waving protesters.

In June 2015, vandals painted “Black lives matter” on Confederate monuments in a half-dozen states, including the one in St. Louis. The incidents came a week after nine black congregants at a Charleston, South Carolina, church, where killed in a racially motivated attack.

St. Louis officials looked into removing the Confederate monument around the time of the vandalism but could not find a museum willing to take it. For now, Roth said, Krewson simply wants it taken down and placed in storage until “someone is interested in displaying it and surrounding it with historically complete context and interpretive materials.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.