Statue of Abraham Lincoln defaced with feces, red paint, ‘defund the police’ signs, and Black Lives Matter flag

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BOISE, ID – A bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, known as “Seated Lincoln,” was vandalized with paint, feces, and protest signs on Monday in Julia Davis Park. Three protest groups claimed responsibility for the act.

The statue of the 16th President of the United States had a red liquid painted across it, according to police. Signs posted on the statue said, “defund the police” and called for an end to the “prison industrial complex.”

Another sign accused Lincoln of ordering the execution of 38 Santee Sioux. A Black Lives Matter flag wrapped around the statue.

Boise Lincoln statue defaced with Black Lives Matter flag, paint, and feces - Screenshot courtesy of KTVB
Lincoln statue defaced with Black Lives Matter flag – Screenshot courtesy of KTVB

President Lincoln did sign off on the execution of 39 Dakota warriors for massacres committed during the Dakota War of 1862. 38 of them were hanged following conviction.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean issued a strong condemnation for the criminal mischief, especially during Black History Month:

“Vandalism is a crime, never appropriate, and those committing these crimes will be held accountable. At a time when our democracy is fragile, this is particularly disturbing as President Lincoln sought to keep our fractured nation together and to address the scourge of slavery – losing his life for it.

“On the first day of Black History month, it’s essential to honor those in our community, reflect on our past, and work together for a better future. This terrible act detracts from progress and is an affront to those who toil daily for civil rights.”

Red paint and feces used to deface Lincoln statue - Screenshot courtesy of KTVB
Red paint and feces used to deface Lincoln statue – Screenshot courtesy of KTVB

Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee said the act was not helpful to any cause:

“Defacing a venerated object to provoke an emotional response will not help us rise to our better self.”

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The vandalism was discovered just before 8 a.m. and was cleaned up promptly by the Boise Parks and Recreation Department. Police said the statue did not appear to have suffered any permanent damage.

A group known as “Peaceful Roots of Change” posted photographs of the vandalized statue on Instagram. The group, along with two other groups, claimed responsibility for the vandalism, according to reporting by the Idaho Press.

City park workers clean the statue - Screenshot courtesy of KTVB
City park workers clean the statue – Screenshot courtesy of KTVB

Members of the group described the act as a temporary political display meant to raise awareness on the first day of Black History Month.  The group claims Lincoln’s treatment of indigenous and black people is being “omitted” from history.

The group claimed they organized the display with Black Lives Matter Boise and Antifa Boise, according to Samantha Hager of Peaceful Roots of Change. Hager claimed that the red paint made to represent the blood that was spread across the statue was a non-toxic, biodegradable chalk, which “washes away easy as can be.”

Hager said the Lincoln statue was targeted because of his role in the Dakota executions:

“The reason that we targeted the Lincoln statue is that it’s the first day of Black History Month, and he’s the one who ordered the largest mass execution in American history, the Dakota 38.

“It’s definitely not one of the most prevalent pieces of history that you’ll see in a lot of history books, but it is something that happened. A lot of us that are involved in this, we are teachers, we are professors, or we have studied history or we’re political activists, and we know this information, and we want to share it with the public.”

She denied the groups placed feces on the statue as reported by police:

“We didn’t put that there. No one did that… When we saw pictures of the feces, they’re claiming we put there, it’s dog poop. It’s on a walking trail; people bring their dogs there all the time.”

Lincoln statue defaced - Screenshot courtesy of KTVB on YouTube
Lincoln statue defaced – Screenshot courtesy of KTVB on YouTube

Hager went on to claim that Lincoln owned slaves, something historians disagree with.

Regardless of the reason for the defacing, Mayor McLean expressed her anger over the incident:

“At a time when our democracy is fragile, this is particularly disturbing, as President Lincoln sought to keep our fractured nation together and to address the scourge of slavery — losing his life for it.

“On the first day of Black History month, it’s essential to honor those in our community, reflect on our past, and work together for a better future. This terrible act detracts from progress and is an affront to those who toil daily for civil rights.”

The Boise Police Department is continuing its investigation into the incident. Police stated their investigation included evidence shared on social media.

Hager said the groups did not violate the law and said they consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild:

“It is an act of civil disobedience, but it’s protected under the Constitution. We have wonderful lawyers on our side that are at our beck and call.”

The vandalism comes less than two months after the Ann Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise was vandalized with swastika stickers.

The popular Ann Frank Memorial had stickers with the Nazi symbol placed in several locations inside the center. The stickers also had the message “We are everywhere” printed on them.

The Boise site is the only Anne Frank Memorial in the United States.

Mayor McLean commented:

“The Anne Frank Memorial was vandalized by racist criminals. Nine stickers with swastika symbols were placed throughout the memorial. This is shocking and disturbing, and we know it does not reflect the values of our community.

“The vandalism will be investigated, and the people responsible will be held accountable.”

Police said surveillance video was being reviewed from the surrounding area and that the investigation was on-going. 

Police have not said whether the two acts of vandalism were related.

 

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