This morning, two statues returned to the grounds of the State Capitol after a fifteen month hiatus – and a third may be on the way.
The two statues – of Forward and of abolitionist and civil war fighter Hans Christian Heg – are back around the Capitol Square.
They’ve been out of commission for more than a year after being toppled and damaged last summer during ongoing police brutality protests and after the arrest of a local Black Lives Matter activist.
After being restored by a Detroit artist, they’re back for public viewing.
Representative Amy Loudenbeck is the Chairperson of the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board, or SCERB, which has overseen the restoration process.
“They shipped out the statues about a year ago and they did the casting I know of Heg’s, Colonel Hans Heg’s head and did what they needed to do to get the statues restored and also to repair the damage that had been done and get them ready to be put back on their bases,” Loudenbeck stated.
Senator Melissa Agard, another SCERB member, believes that the restored statues convey a new symbolic message.
“To me it is also a reminder why it was they were taken down and the amount of work that as a society we need to continue to do to ensure that Wisconsin is a place where everyone knows that they belong and that there is justice and equality available,” Agard said.
Another outgrowth of last summer’s protests is a movement to erect a statue of civil rights leader Vel Phillips on state Capitol grounds. That proposal was championed by community leader Michael Johnson, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club.
Johnson told W-O-R-T yesterday that a fundraiser has raised over a quarter of a million dollars.
Senator Agard says the statue is a perfect fit.
“It’s past time that we add diversity to the statues that are on the grounds of our State Capitol. And Vel Phillips is certainly a trailblazer and someone who is worthy of recognizing the barriers that they removed and the work that they did in the state of Wisconsin,” says Agard.
In July, a subcommittee of the board that manages the state capitol unanimously recommended to put a statue of Vel Philips at the Capitol’s south entrance.
The full State Capitol and Executive Residence Board is scheduled to give its final vote on the Vel Philips statue later this fall, along with deciding the statue’s design and location on the Capitol grounds.
Photo: ProfCrazyNuts on Wikimedia license under Creative Commons 3.0