At around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, protesters spray-painted and then toppled the statue honoring The Centennial State’s contribution to the Civil War. Erected in 1909, the statue depicted a generic cavalryman (not intended to be a depiction of an actual person), and honored the First Colorado Cavalry. The statue was designed by a man who had served in that unit.
Unlike multiple other monuments and statues related to the Civil War that have been toppled by protesters in the wake of the George Floyd protests, this one did not honor the Confederacy or anyone who fought for it. The First Colorado Cavalry was a Union brigade, and actually helped stop Confederate advances into the Western territories.
According to KKTV, the statue “honors the Colorado soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War,” and that the regiment’s mission “was to guard the Colorado Territory and its gold mines from possible Confederate invasion.”
However, that’s not to say that the statue was without historical baggage. The regiment also battled against Native American tribes in the region. And in one particular battle, now called The Sand Creek Massacre, some number of men affiliated with the regiment killed 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people — mostly women, children, and the elderly.
A placard on the statue attempted to put the regiment’s actions into historical context, noting that “the monument’s designers mischaracterized the actual events. Protests led by some Sand Creek descendants and others throughout the twentieth century have led to the widespread recognition of the tragedy as the Sand Creek Massacre.”
Indeed, the statue has been the target of repeated vandalism since May, when the George Floyd protests first broke out. So often has it been spray-painted that it’s unclear how much of the spray-painted graffiti on it, if any, was related to the Thursday morning protests.
By about 11 a.m. Thursday morning, city crews turned up with heavy equipment to pick up the statue, and move it to a secure location where it can be repaired. Crews also removed two brass cannons that were also a part of the monument.
It remains unclear, as of this writing, what will become of the statue. However, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, there is precedent for moving such monuments into museums, where they can be better protected from vandals as well as placed into their historical context.
The city of Mobile, Alabama, has removed a monument to a Confederate admiral and plans to put it in a museum.