An ‘anti-racist’ group calling itself ‘White Lies Matter’ stole a $500,000 stone chair dedicated to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis and claims it will use the monument as a ‘toilet’ unless a Confederate women’s group hangs a banner outside its headquarters bearing the words of a black militant who killed a state trooper.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair was first noticed missing on March 19 after it was taken from the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.
The stunt comes as a debate has raged around the country over monuments to historical figures who were involved in the Confederacy, with Black Lives Matter advocates pushing to remove them and others saying history shouldn’t be erased.
The group claiming responsibility for the theft, ‘White Lies Matter,’ sent emails to local media outlets in Alabama spelling out its supposed demands for the return of the chair. It isn’t clear who’s behind the ‘White Lies’ group.
According to AL.com, the group claims it will not return the chair unless the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a women’s club that says it is dedicated to preserving the history of its Confederate relatives, hangs a banner outside its Richmond, Virginia headquarters at 1pm on Friday.
The banner would say: ‘The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.’
The women’s group has said memorial statues and monuments are ‘shared American history’ and should remain in place. It hasn’t issued a response to the supposed ransom demands. DailyMail.com has contacted the UDC for comment.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair was first noticed missing on March 19 after it was taken from the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama
The image above shows the chair being stolen by vandals sometime between midnight and 3am on March 19
The chair stands at 3ft tall and weighs several hundred pounds
‘White Lies Matter’ released a ransom note demanding that a banner be displayed by a pro-Confederate group on Friday
The banner, which White Lies Matter wants displayed and claims was already delivered to the UDC, bears a quote from Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army terrorist who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.
Shakur, 73, escaped prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. She remains wanted by the FBI.
According to The Montgomery Advertiser, the stolen chair stands at about 3ft tall and weighs several hundred pounds. Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward leading to its return.
The chair was dedicated to Davis by Ladies of Selma in 1893, more than 20 years after he last visited Selma.
It once showed detailing of ferns, tree trunks and branches before it became weathered, the Advertiser reports. A dedication to Davis was once visible on the seat.
Selma police said that the chair was likely stolen sometime between midnight and 3am on March 19.
The theft comes near a significant date in American history: Friday is the 156th anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.
The above image is a Photoshopped picture showing the banner that White Lies Matter wants displayed outside the headquarters of United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia on Friday
The banner, which White Lies Matter claims was already delivered to UDC, bears a quote from Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army terrorist who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. Shakur escaped prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. She remains wanted by the FBI
The ‘White Lies Matter’ group apparently wants to commemorate the date with its demands for a banner-hanging.
‘Failure to do so will result in the monument, an ornate stone chair, immediately being turned into a toilet,’ the email from White Lies Matter states, essentially holding the chair for ransom.
‘If they do display the banner, not only will we return the chair intact, but we will clean it to boot.’
The UDC is a historical and commemorative organization that ‘honors the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States.’
The Dallas County, Alabama, District Attorney’s Office has confirmed the theft and the ransom demand.
‘This incident is sending Selma back into “The Twilight Zone”,’ the DA, Michael Jackson, told AL.com.
The chair was dedicated to Davis by Ladies of Selma in 1893, more than 20 years after he last visited Selma
The undated file photo above shows the chair dedicated to Davis
‘There’s never a dull moment in Selma.’
The city was the site of the 1965 march where civil rights advocates were beaten by police as they walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge – an event that was televised and brought a new awareness of the issue to the broader American public. ,
Meanwhile, this is the second time in recent years that a monument was stolen from the cemetery in Selma.
Who was Jefferson Davis?
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889)
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was the president of the Confederate States of America throughout its existence during the American Civil War (1861–65).
Before the Civil War, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi, which his brother Joseph gave him, and owned as many as 113 slaves.
Although Davis argued against secession in 1858,he believed that states had an unquestionable right to leave the Union.
After the war he was imprisoned for two years and indicted for treason but was never tried.
In the last year, several statues and monuments honoring Davis were torn down.
The movement to remove Confederate monuments and depictions of historical figures who mistreated Native Americans became part of the national reckoning over racial injustice following George Floyd’s death last year in Minneapolis.
In 2012, vandals took a bronze bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. After the Civil War, Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a domestic terrorist organization that targeted blacks mainly in the South.
As for the chair, the ‘White Lies’ group says it and other Confederate monuments exist ‘to remind those who’s [sic] freedom had to be purchased in blood, that there still exists a portion of our country that is more than willing to continue to spill blood to avoid paying that debt down.’
‘We took their toy, and we don’t feel guilty about it. They never play with it anyway.
‘They just want it there to remind us what they’ve done, what they are still willing to do. But the south won’t rise again.
‘All that’s left of that nightmare is an obscenely heavy chair that’s a throne for a ghost whose greatest accomplishment was treason.’
The police-involved death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis, last year triggered a wave of nationwide protests that included demands to remove statues and monuments dedicated to the Confederacy.
More than 160 were removed nationwide last year, though some 2,000 remain standings due to legal protections put in place primarily by southern state governments.
The symbols – from monuments to building names – appear in public spaces nationwide, more than a century and a half after the Civil War ended slavery, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
While many of the monuments, a majority of which went up in the early Jim Crow era, have been removed or torn down by protesters – it has proven difficult to remove those that remain.
At least six Southern states have policies protecting monuments, the law center said, while historical preservation boards and Republican legislative majorities have slowed the momentum, saying it’s important to preserve America’s past.
Texas boasted more than 180 public symbols of the Confederacy including monuments and school names, the Texas Tribune noted in 2017.
It remains unclear how many of them total are still standing in 2021 but the Dallas Morning News reported in 2018 that Texas had removed more Confederate symbols than any other state at the time.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Virginia led the US in removals in 2020 taking down 71 Confederate symbols in total.
The state was followed far behind by North Carolina with 24 and Alabama and Texas with 12 each.
A 1933 statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis was removed from University of Texas’ South Mall last year. The May 2020 police-involved death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, sparked a nationwide racial reckoning that included demands for the removal of statues and monuments to Confederate figures
Thirty states didn’t take down any symbols at all, according to SPLC’s count.
Among the most frequent names on the list of removals were Davis and General Stonewall Jackson.
The men are seen as top figures of the Lost Cause, a term referring to a belief that fighting on the side of slaveholders in the Civil War was just and heroic.
Davis, who served as president of the Confederate States of America before becoming a US senator from Mississippi, had his name and likeness removed 11 times.
Jackson, a top confederate general, was on the list eight times, with his name removed from five different schools.
But by far the most frequent was Lee, who showed up more than 15 times.
His removals included a statue which represented the state of Virginia as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection in the US Capitol for 111 years.