Public divided on decision to remove Confederate monument from Garfield Park

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is taking action to permanently remove the Confederate monument in Garfield Park.

Some residents say the decision to remove the statue is like desecrating a grave or erasing a part of history that needs to be remembered. Others say it’s like keeping a statue of Hitler up and that the wounds on the country are so deep that it can be remembered without a monument.

The Confederate monument located at Garfield Park originated as a way to remember Confederate soldiers who were prisoners at an Indianapolis encampment. The Indiana Historical Society says many monuments originally popped up right after the Civil War, but not this one. The monument was built and moved around the city multiple times during a controversial time in the early 1900s.

“This monument was built to honor the confederate soldiers who died at Camp Morton,” Indiana Historical Society President and CEO Jody Blankenship said. “Because they were buried in a mass grave, a monument that included their names was installed at Greenlawn Cemetery. The monument was then moved to Garfield Park. The first phase of building these monuments occurred after the Civil War and was meant to honor those who died fighting in the war. There was a second phase of building these monuments that happened in the early 20th century. Those monuments were typically done because of, or at the urging of, confederate organizations and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups. And the intent, really, behind those was intimidation. They were trying to intimidate African Americans, urban centers, and that’s why you see them in the north, in places where we were not a part of the Confederacy.”

Hogsett released a statement calling for the monument’s removal saying it serves as “nothing more than a painful reminder of our state’s horrific embrace of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago.”

Some people News 8 spoke with Thursday say that’s exactly why it should stay up, to serve as a reminder of our city’s past so that we never forget.

“Indianapolis, Indiana has the most monuments,” Tony Sharp said. “Fix it up G**d**t. Fix it up with something. Make it look better or something. Don’t tear it down.”

Others News 8 spoke with agree with the mayor, saying it’s not something that should be accepted.

“It is a monument to the Confederate soldiers,” Anne McDermott said. “Why would you want a monument? It’s offensive to the black race. Would you want a monument of people beating slaves? Would you want a monument of Hitler up?”

The city is estimating the project will cost somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000. The monument will then be put into storage. The mayor didn’t say if anything would be put in place of the monument, but several people agree if it is replaced, it should be something from a black artist for the black community.