The removal of offensive monuments took a unique turn in Seattle. Mayor Ed Murray asked a cemetery to remove a Confederate monument erected in 1926 but also requested the removal of a large statue of Vladimir Lenin. From the Seattle Times:
The monument, erected in 1926 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Lenin statue are both on private property. Still, Murray said, he believes they should be removed.
“Not only do these kinds of symbols represent historic injustices, their existence causes pain among those who themselves or whose family members have been impacted by these atrocities,” Murray said in the statement. “We should remove all these symbols, no matter what political affiliation may have been assigned to them in the decades since they were erected. This includes both Confederate memorials and statues idolizing the founder of the authoritarian Soviet regime.”
Lake View Cemetery, where the Confederate memorial is located, closed Wednesday and will remain closed until Monday after receiving threats about the monument.
Since both statues are on private property, the city has no power to demand or enforce their removal. Mayor Murray told Q13 news, “We can’t tell the private property owner what to do and I won’t because that’s not our right on anyone’s property.” He continued, “We can say we think this isn’t a good message for the city.”
— Brandi Kruse (@BrandiKruse) August 17, 2017
The 18-foot tall statue of Lenin is privately owned and still for sale at a price of $250,000. The Seattle Post Intelligencer has a bit of the history:
After its completion in 1988, the statue was toppled in 1989 after Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, and that’s when English teacher Lewis Carpenter found it in a scrapyard. The Issaquah resident then mortgaged his house to purchase and transport the statue to Washington in 1993 before his death in 1994.
Issaquah debated displaying the statue before eventually deciding against it, and Carpenter’s family planned to sell it to a Fremont foundry to melt it down, but Seattle sculptor Peter Bevis instead found a place to display the statue until the family found a buyer. It was unveiled on June 3, 1995, two blocks south of its current location.
The land where the Lenin statue sits is owned by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber told the Seattle PI the statue was, “an integral part of the quirkiness of the neighborhood.”