Mayor Murray calls for the removal of controversial monuments in Seattle

With the movement to remove confederate statues on the East Coast, some are taking aim at controversial monuments in the Seattle area.

With the movement to take down Confederate statues on the East Coast, some are demanding the removal of controversial monuments in Seattle, including Mayor Ed Murray. 

In a statement Thursday, Murray called for a confederate memorial at Lake View Cemetery and a Lenin statue in Fremont to be taken down.

“In the last few days, Seattleites have expressed concerns and frustration over symbols of hate, racism and violence that exist in our city. 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. "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. Both are on private property, but I believe the confederate memorial at Lake View Cemetery and the Lenin statue in Fremont should be removed. We should never forget our history, but we also should not idolize figures who have committed violent atrocities and sought to divide us based on who we are or where we came from.”

In the Fremont neighborhood, a statue of Vladimir Lenin has sat at North 36th Street and Fremont Place North since the mid-1990s. These days, it's mostly a tourist attraction.

Purchased in Poland by an Issaquah man after the Cold War, the seven-ton bronze statue ended up in Fremont when he died. His family is still looking for a buyer.

About a half-dozen protesters showed up Wednesday wearing MAGA clothing, chanting, "Remove the hate."

"This is offensive," said Tony Barger. "This should be taken down. This is an actual Russian relic and should not be here on American soil."

Some locals tried to intercede and explain to them the statue inspires discussion about art and history.

"We're at a dangerous place in our country's history. No one should support Lenin; no one should support Hitler. But there are bigger fish to fry than a statue of Lenin in Fremont," said Barbara Mitchell.

At one point, demonstrators showed up holding pro-Lenin signs. Seattle police parked a patrol car across the street to monitor the area.

In a much quieter setting on Capitol Hill, a memorial for Confederate soldiers has stood for almost a century in Seattle's Lake View Cemetery.

On Wednesday, a landscaping truck parked closely in front of it. Management said groundskeepers left it there due to concerns of property damage.

Lake View Cemetery eventually shut its gates early Wednesday and said the grounds would be closed until at least Sunday.

Assistant Cemetery Manager Craig Lohr said Thursday that the cemetery is receiving threats "every hour" over the phone and through email of people wanting to damage or remove the memorial.

He said the cemetery plans to seeking legal advice next week on options to remove the monument, since they do not own the property it sits on. When a customer buys a plot at the cemetery, they own the land and the price includes care and endowment, which Lake View provides. 

Lohr said Lake View has Muslims, Jews and people of all different races laid to rest there. The cemetery has always been a symbol of diversity.  

Ashley Rombro and her family were visiting the cemetery's big attraction, the Bruce Lee memorial. She's from Baltimore, a city that removed four Confederate statues overnight.

"Those terrible, terrible moments in our history happened, and the answer is not removing evidence of those; the answer is discussing them," she said.

© 2017 KING-TV


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