2/23/21 – Committee unveils possible changes to Confederate statue

ALLENDALE, MI –(Mlive) –  A local committee tasked with recommending changes to a controversial Civil War statue in Allendale Township has come up with three possible solutions.

None of the potential changes to the statue presented by the seven-member Garden of Honor Memorial Committee on Monday, Feb. 22, to the Allendale Township Board of Trustees are final, however.

The committee were given five more meetings to study the three possible solutions and come back to the township board with a final recommendation, which the board can ultimately shoot down or approve.

The possible changes to the statue, presented for the first time at the township board’s meeting Monday, were as follows:

  • Replace the current statue with an abstract statue, such as a column or obelisk, that features statements or quotes on each side representing “various perspectives on the Civil War,” because it was a war among a country and not outsiders;
  • Replace the current statue with one of Benjamin Jones, an escaped slave and Black man who settled in Ottawa County and served as a Union soldier;
  • Keep and repair the current statue but place a plexiglass screen around it that displays thoughts on the Civil War as well as commentary on the controversy surrounding the statue itself.

The Civil War statue in Allendale Township’s Garden of Honor depicts a Union and Confederate soldier standing back-to-back with a Black enslaved child at their feet.

Since late spring 2020, the statue has been the site of continued protests calling for the statue’s removal, with some saying a Confederate soldier has no place in a park honoring veterans and still more saying the depiction of the enslaved child is demeaning and racist.

In June, the township board voted to keep the statue but also formed the committee to study it and recommend possible changes to it.

Members of the board on Monday largely expressed thanks for the committee’s work and hard conversations surrounding the statue and unanimously granted the committee another five meetings to come up with a final recommendation.