Washington

Should Seattle get rid of controversial statues? Mayor thinks so

In this Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2017 photo, a memorial for Confederate soldiers sits in Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Wash. In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., some cities have removed Confederate statues and a Confederate monument on private property in Seattle is causing some tension. Lake View Cemetery closed Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, because of the angry messages they've received over the memorial.
In this Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2017 photo, a memorial for Confederate soldiers sits in Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Wash. In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., some cities have removed Confederate statues and a Confederate monument on private property in Seattle is causing some tension. Lake View Cemetery closed Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, because of the angry messages they've received over the memorial. The Seattle Times

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has called for both the monument to Confederate soldiers at Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery and a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Fremont to be taken down, saying they represent “historic injustices” and are symbols of hate, racism and violence.

Murray’s statement, released Thursday, is much stronger than his previous response, where he expressed concerns about the Confederate monument to the operator of the cemetery. Lake View Cemetery closed Wednesday after receiving threats related to the monument.

On Thursday, Lake View Cemetery said it would remain closed until Monday morning, “due to the controversy over Confederate memorials.”

The monument, erected in 1926 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Lenin statue are both on private property. Still, Murray said, he believes they should be removed.

We should never forget our history, but we also should not idolize figures who have committed violent atrocities and sought to divide us based on who we are or where we came from.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

“Not only do these kinds of symbols represent historic injustices, their existence causes pain among those who themselves or whose family members have been impacted by these atrocities,” Murray said in the statement. “We should remove all these symbols, no matter what political affiliation may have been assigned to them in the decades since they were erected. This includes both Confederate memorials and statues idolizing the founder of the authoritarian Soviet regime.”

A petition on Change.org for the removal of the Confederate memorial has 4,719 signatures. Across the nation, groups have denounced the monuments, memorials and historical markers to Confederate soldiers, following a deadly weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people were killed as protesters clashed over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“We should never forget our history, but we also should not idolize figures who have committed violent atrocities and sought to divide us based on who we are or where we came from,” Murray said.

In his statement, Murray also mentioned for the first time the Lenin statue in Fremont, where a small group of protesters gathered Wednesday. The statue is for sale and is often vandalized with red paint on one hand to symbolize blood.

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, weighed in on the debate on the Lenin statue, saying that it shouldn’t be removed. Carlyle, whose family left Poland in 1924 after attacks on Jewish villages, called the statue a testament to the defeat of a “murderous, painful regime.”

“Art can be offensive and painful, but it can also bring us alive with curiosity, wonder, knowledge. Installing a political statue of a man and regime that would never allow installation of political statues of opponents is a symbolic representation of the victory of democracy and freedom over oppression,” he wrote on his blog. “And of the role of art itself.”

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