Street art attached to Civil War monuments

Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 16, 2011
and last updated 2012-02-23 15:05:58-05

Several Richmond monuments are now adorned with street art. No one seems to know yet who did it, and no one seems to know who is going to remove it, either.

A political artist—identity unknown at this point—is trying to hammer home a message.

The monuments of three prominent figures associated with the Civil War: J.E.B Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis.

Sometime yesterday—at least that’s when anyone first noticed—three different plaques were installed at each monument.

Each plaque details the story of individuals involved with the Civil Rights movement (see photo gallery on sidebar).

The act was not the typical vandalism and defacement using spray paint and scribbling graffiti. The tools used were rudimentary, found at any hardware store; wood, paint, bolts, wrench, cloth and pen. The message that remains, however, is a more complex commentary on Virginia history and culture.

The featured people include Barbara Johns, who led a student strike in 1951, Gabriel, who was hanged along with 24 other slaves and Mildred and Richard Loving, who were convicted of interracial marriage.

A Richmond city police officer viewing the J.E.B. Stuart Monument said that the city knows about them, and that they will come down soon. Apparently, Capitol police officers heard about it last night.

The city officer also noted that the installations were better than graffiti, as they can be removed with a wrench.

However, when and who will take them down remains an unanswered question.

Dionne Waugh, spokesperson for the Richmond City Police Department, said to call Capitol Police.

Capt. Goodloe, Deputy Chief of Administration at Division of Capitol Police, said to call Richmond City Police.

Another call was placed, to Karla Peters, with Richmond City Police, who again said to contact Capitol Police.

“Those statues belong to the city; they are maintained by the city,” said Goodloe. “Lee Monument is owned and maintained by the state.”

A piece of cloth has been sewn onto each wooden plaque. It appears as though ink was used to detail the captions.

On the Stonewall Jackson monument is Gabriel.

“Blacksmith, slave, educated man, Gabriel sought liberty and an end to slavery with a large-scale rebellion in the city of Richmond during the summer of 1800. His plot was exposed and he was hanged along with 24 other slaves.”

On the Jefferson Davis monument is Barbara Johns, whose portrait is in the State Capitol building.

“As a sixteen-year-old in Farmville, VA John’s led a student strike in 1951 to protest racial segregation in her school. The resulting lawsuit became part of Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision ending segregation…”

On the J.E.B. Stuart monument are Mildred and Richard Loving.”Interracial married couple, the Lovings were arrested and convicted in 1959, VA of miscegenation. They took their case to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 ruled in favor of the right for all Americans to have interracial marriages.”

Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook, what you think about this street art? Is it art at all, or simply vandalism.