Petition Starts Up To Prevent Lincoln Statue Removal In Boston

Printed from:

A statue of the first Republican President of the United States is expected to be removed from Park Square in Boston after a vote from the city’s Art Commission — but some are trying to rally support for keeping it.

Late last month, the Boston Art Commission voted 8-0 to remove what is known as the “Lincoln Statue.”

It’s a replica of the Emancipation Group memorial that is in Washington D.C.. Designed by Thomas Ball of Massachusetts, it depicts Lincoln and a freed slave with broken shackles. The statue shows the former slave below Lincoln, who is holding the Emancipation Proclamation and has an outstretched hand. The statue’s inscription reads, “A race set free/ and the country at peace / Lincoln / Rests from his labors.”

The city’s Art Commission turned its sights on the statue after a petition to take it down started by a man named Tory Bullock garnered 12,000 signatures in less than a month.

Now, a brother and sister from Westwood have started promoting a petition going in the other direction:  to keep the statue up.

Jess Kreinsen, a 21-year-old from Westwood, and her 17-year-old brother Ian Kreinsen are promoting their petition called “Preserve the Emancipation Statue in Boston”. They started it on Monday and as of Wednesday morning, it had 85 signatures.

“It’s part of our history and our history shouldn’t be covered up,” Ian told New Boston Post in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning. “We were disappointed by the city’s actions. Lincoln is someone who really moved the values of this country forward. Our Founding Fathers didn’t live up to all men being created equal, but Lincoln is a key part of the story of our country moving forward in that direction.”

Ian told New Boston Post that the response has largely been positive to the petition so far, with the exception of a few people.

He also told New Boston Post there are other ways to build support for the statue.

“People should go see the statue and how beautiful it is, and actually have a cordial conversation about it without jumping to conclusions,” he said.

Jess said she is more disturbed that removing the statue isn’t being pushed by hotheaded rioters but rather by a government body that is supposed to promote public art.

“This was done by the city, the Art Commission,” she told New Boston Post in a telephone interview. “That’s never a good sign, as we’ve learned from history and dystopian novels.”

She also said that some people misunderstand the point of the statue —  that it’s not about Lincoln being superior to anyone. 

“The history of this statue is very unique,” she said. “People need to look at it and see the freedman is not kneeling, he’s rising. He’s not on two knees. His head is not looking down. He’s at the start of a race off to his new freedom. People need to look at it and the artist’s intention. It’s the moment of the liberation of slaves.

“When you look at it like this, it’s a really important moment in our nation’s history and you can’t just tear it down and forget all of our nation’s sins and the moments where we got better,” she added.

Even if the signature-gathering effort is not successful in preserving the statue for all to see in Boston, Jess said that it sends a message to the city.

“All of these signatures we gather show that there’s a good portion of the population that doesn’t want the government to bow down to the mob rule that’s going on right now,” she said. “There’s a good silent majority over here in this very blue state.”

The statue has stood in Boston since 1879 and will cost $15,000 to remove, according to city officials. If it goes it’s unclear what the city will do with it. Options include moving it to a museum or putting it in storage.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Democrat, is among those who support the removal.

“After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue, and its reductive representation of the Black man’s role in the abolitionist movement,” Walsh said in a statement last month. “I fully support the Boston Art Commission’s decision for removal and thank them for their work.”

A non-scientific survey of Boston residents by the Art Commission found that a large majority of respondents want the Lincoln statue gone.

During the Art Commission’s virtual meeting June 25, a Boston resident named Chad Fletcher likened the Lincoln statue to the statue of Christopher Columbus in the North End, which was recently decapitated and subsequently removed, at least temporarily.

Fletcher said he favors getting rid of both.

“Anybody who wants to be on the right side of history, now is the time … to actually prove it,” Fletcher said.

His suggestion:  put up statues of “people who have actually unified us —  and not just unified but have actually done a world of good.”

One candidate: former Boston mayor Tom Menino.

“One of the ideas that I have to replace Columbus is Mayor Menino, none other than in that same spot … where Christopher Columbus was,” Fletcher said.

He said he has not put as much thought into which historical figure should replace what he called “the Lincoln Memorial.”

“But I would recommend, I would like to see, its replacement be developed by a black artist,” he said. “I’m sure we have a lot of them here.”