ST. LOUIS — St. Louis may soon join the growing list of cities removing monuments to the Confederacy, city officials said Tuesday.
Mayor Lyda Krewson wants the 32-foot-tall monument in Forest Park removed as soon as possible, and is looking into engineering options to take it down, said Eddie Roth, the city’s director of human services.
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.
Compared to some monuments in the South that depict Lee or the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, the St. Louis monument is a rather generic granite slab. 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.”
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.
The graffiti in St. Louis may also have been spurred by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, in August 2014 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. The white officer who killed him, Darren Wilson, was cleared of wrongdoing, but the shooting raised new awareness about the treatment of blacks in the region.
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.”