The same week we published Carlo McCormick’s extensive essay entitled “Why Monuments?,” in which he posits that we need to find a valid way to deal with statuary that celebrates enslavers, among other things, the county District Attorney Michael Jackson is looking to arrest members of “White Lies Matter” in Selma, Alabama for kidnapping a monumental chair.
This Friday, the anonymous artivists said they were set to return their ransomed confederate chair monument, “The Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair.” It was first reported missing from Live Oak Cemetery in Selma last month – an ornately carved stone chair dedicated in 1893 to the Confederate president’s memory and estimated to be worth $500,000.
They had demanded, via email, that a banner with a quote by Assata Shakur be hung from April 9th to April 10th at the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday, the 156th anniversary of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the end of the Civil War.
“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives,” said the banner.
A member of the Black Liberation Army, Shakur was convicted of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper in 1977. In light of the currently running court case of police brutality in the killing of George Floyd, the use of Shakur’s quote is deliberate.
According to ransom documents, the chair would be returned unharmed if the banner was hung – but a new communication Wednesday evening showed images of the chair possibly being used as a toilet by a historically costumed and mustachioed actor.
“As the UDC has given us every indication that they had no intention of hanging the banner, even going as far as declaring our demands, ‘fake news, White Lies Matter has decided to move forward prematurely with the alteration of the chair. It will be returned to the UDC immediately.”
According to news reported in The Washington Post, the White Lies Matter group wrote, “We took their toy, and we don’t feel guilty about it. They never play with it anyway. They just want it there to remind us what they’ve done, what they are still willing to do.
“But the south won’t rise again. Not as the Confederacy. Because that coalition left out a large portion of its population. All that’s left of that nightmare is an obscenely heavy chair that’s a throne for a ghost whose greatest accomplishment was treason.”
UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting that the New Orleans police have made an arrest on the theft of the chair. Two individuals are being held in connection to the theft while they search for a third suspect. The chair was recovered without damage to it and it will be returned to its original place.