For over 120 years, a statue of Adm. Raphael Semmes stood in the middle of a downtown street in Mobile. The bronze statue, oxidized and turned green from a century of exposure to the elements, honored the Confederate naval officer who, among other things, led a raid that broke up a Union blockade of New Orleans.
However, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, statues of Confederate fighters are coming down. Critics say that the statues honor men who fought to keep slavery legal and that their existence is a tacit endorsement of racism. In some cases, they’ve been forcibly torn down by protesters. In others, governments have taken them down under pressure from protesters — or even without pressure from protests.
In Mobile, the city’s statue of Semmes was taken down on June 5, after the monument was vandalized by protesters.
The Semmes Confederate Statue in Mobile was vandalized this morning, around the same time Birmingham was pulling apart it’s own memorial to those who fought and lost in the American Civil War. Follow @aldotcom for more on continuing protest throughout Alabama. pic.twitter.com/cGXaMriL3j
— Christopher Harress (@Charress) June 2, 2020
Mayor Sandy Stimpson said that, since then, his office has been in discussion with the city council to come up with a plan for the statue.
In a series of tweets, Stimpson noted that history can sometimes be ugly.
“Over 300 years, there are chapters of darkness and light that weave together to form the Mobile story. Our most important chapter is the one we write next,” he said.
He went on to note that the “decisions of yesterday,” referring to the city’s decision to erect the statue, shouldn’t “cloud a bright tomorrow” for the future.
To that end, he said, he’s ordered the statue, which had been in storage, to be placed in the History Museum of Mobile. There, he said, two things will happen. First, the statue will be given the care it deserves, in a controlled environment with curators to look after it, rather than exposed to the elements and to potential vandalism. Further, it can be understood and appreciated within its historical context.
“The values represented by this monument a century ago are not the values of Mobile in 2020,” he said.
Mobile is not alone in moving a statue once beset by vandalism to the safety of a museum. In Bristol, England, protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and tossed it into the city’s harbor. It was later recovered with a view toward repairing it and placing it in a museum.