Published August 17, 2017
HELENA, MONTANA – Reacting to the racist demonstrations held last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, members of the American Indian Caucus in the Montana Legislature are calling for the city of Helena to remove a Confederate memorial that sits in a city park.
“We ask that you all recognize the harmful message that this fountain sends to Indians, minorities, and all Montanans of this great state,” the members wrote in a letter to the editor of a local Montana newspaper on Tuesday. “Please take a stand and recognize that this fountain is a divisive symbol in Montana and represents a history that our country and citizens have repeatedly fought against.”
The ACLU of Montana issued the following statement on Wednesday on the Helena Confederate Monument:
The ACLU of Montana and the Montana Racial Equity Project stand in support of members of the American Indian Caucus’s call to remove Helena’s Confederate memorial fountain.
What we, as a city and state, choose to commemorate with monuments publicly communicates our values as a community. This monument romanticizes one of the most dehumanizing, violent, and destructive periods in our history. It honors those who fought with the Confederacy to preserve slavery and willfully disregards the horrific legacies of the Confederacy, including lynchings, segregation, and the systemic oppression of Black Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants that continues to this day. It ignores that the Confederacy is a symbol of subjugation and terror marginalized groups have experienced and continue to experience in this country.
We unequivocally reject the heritage of white supremacy as an affront to our Helena and Montana values. They do not merit commemoration.
Helena must be inclusive to all and communicate that we value equality and equity. We must ensure that each person who walks the streets and parks of our town feels welcome. We, as Helenans and Montanans, cannot expect to communicate such equality when a symbol of racism, inequality, and oppression stands prominently in Hill Park.
Even as we support the fountain’s removal, we urge that we not put the past aside. We must confront, recognize, and condemn the atrocities of the past, to ensure that they are never repeated. We must fight the many injustices that continue. We call on all Montanans to join the conversation and support the decision to remove this monument of hate and to ensure that our Montana values are accurately reflected at Hill Park and throughout the Big Sky.
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