Black Lives Matter Protests in Madison turned violent last week after the arrest of a Black male who brought a bullhorn and a baseball bat into a downtown restaurant and allegedly demanded free food. This was not an arrest in which a Black man was killed; but force was used, and video was shared on social media and tempers flared.
The protesters engaged in quite a lot of destruction of property — and there was absolutely no incidence of boogaloo droogs this time — windows broken at the capitol, molotov cocktails thrown into buildings, and two statues were torn down.
Protesters removed two Capitol statues from their pedestals, WPR reported: “the Forward statue, located on the west entrance of the Capitol at the end of State Street, and a statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, located on the east entrance of the Capitol at the King Street corner of the square…. Protesters took the Heg statue and dumped it in Lake Monona, almost a half-mile from where it was toppled. And the Forward statue “as of early Wednesday morning, was about a block from the state Capitol in the middle of the street.”
We don't have monuments to Confederate generals in this state. "Forward" was a replica of an 1895 statue by Jean Pond Miner Stoneman of a woman gesturing in the direction of the state motto. The original was purchased by women's suffrage organizations and "presented to the state of Wisconsin on behalf of the women's suffrage movement." The copper statue was replaced in 1996 with a bronze one and moved to a museum. The replica was a frequent rallying spot for protests during the Scott Walker administration.
Far from being a slave-owner, Hans Christian Heg was a leader of a citizen militia that worked to thwart slave catchers. When the Civil War broke out, he was appointed colonel in charge of the largely Scandinavian 15th Wisconsin infantry, seeing action in Kentucky and Tennessee. After pursuing a retreating Confederate unit to Chickamauga, Georgia in September, 1863, he was fatally wounded by a shot to the abdomen.
But perhaps more to the interests of the spokesperson for the protesters, Heg was State Prison Commissioner in 1859, pushing for vocational training rather than the punishment of prisoners. I think that's actually one of the demands of this week's protesters. Too bad they never bothered to learn the history of the statue before tearing it down, beheading it, and dumping it in Lake Monona.
The protesters' spokesperson apparently had little to say about the Heg statue, which was a gift from the Norwegian Society of America in 1925, around the time that Confederate statues were spreading across Dixie like kudzu. Instead, she focused her contempt on Ms. Forward:
“We’re not moving forward, we’re moving backwards,” said Ebony Anderson-Carter. “This (statue) doesn’t need to be here until we’re ready to move forward.”Statues can be repaired and replaced. But not all of the damage Tuesday night was to inanimate objects. I'll have more on that on Thursday.
Anderson-Carter says she and the other protesters want to see something done about racial injustice in the state, and speak with the state’s Black youth.
“The Capitol is where we solve problems, and nobody’s coming here to solve problems,” said Anderson-Carter.