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City, groups try to preserve park’s monument to Confederate POWs

Photo of the Garfield Park Confederate monument.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — City leaders are working with different groups to preserve a park’s monument to Confederate prisoners of war who died in Indiana.

There are new efforts to move the memorial from Garfield Park to a different location.

The city put up barricades Sunday to protect the monument after it was vandalized. Talks over the years have proposed a move of the monument, but what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, two weeks ago is renewing that conversation.

For the past 90 years, the monument stood at the south side park with no major problems.

“First, it’s a huge misconception among most of the population that it’s not a Confederate war monument. It’s a federal memorial to the dead,” said Wayne Sharp, who is a private investigator.

Sharp represents Civil War groups and people with relatives who died fighting in the war from 1861 to 1865.

“This is just one of the monuments placed by the federal government to make peace and try to heal the wounds of war that were still running deep in the early 1900s, and that’s exactly what this is,” he said.

The monument is engraved with more than 1,600 names of Confederate prisoners of war who died at Camp Morton in Indianapolis.

“This is a federal monument owned by the federal government, placed by the federal government,” Sharp said. “The Confederacy, the Confederate groups, Southern people had nothing to do with it. The only context to that all is the Southern Club of Indianapolis moved it in, but other than that, it has no connection to any cause. Just a dedication to young guys that died in the horrific war.”

The monument was moved to Garfield Park in 1928 and since then has become a target of vandalism. Cellphone video taken over the weekend shows a man using a hammer to damage the monument.

“Our groups want to save the monument, and I think that’s what it’s going to take. … To save it is to move it,” he said.

There have been talks in the past to move the monument to Crown Hill Cemetery, where the dead are buried.

Jeff Miller, a city-county councilor whose 16th District includes Garfield Park, said, “I don’t fully understand why it didn’t get moved at that time. But it’s even been brought up, isn’t that a better place?”

“Nonetheless, it is on a city park and that raises issues for folks and raises discussions, does it belong here?” Miller said. ‘In this case, it’s probably better in Crown Hill anyway because the people it is memorializing are actually buried there.”

Miller is hoping everyone involved will work together to come up with a peaceful solution.

“We’ve seen horrible things happen around our country, people killed. We don’t need that. We can talk this through. We’re better than that,” Miller said. “We don’t need that type of violence. We need calm heads and understanding on both sides.”

Miller said city leaders are working with Crown Hill Cemetery to see if it has a location that could hold the monument, how much would the move cost, and who would pay for it.

If you would like to provide feedback, contact your city-county councilor. To find which councilor represents you, call the councilors’ office at 317-327-4241.

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