What’s funnier than tearing down a Confederate monument? Stealing it and threatening to turn it into a toilet.
That’s exactly what happened in Alabama, where officials confirmed Monday that a monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis estimated to be worth $500,000 was stolen from a cemetery in Selma last month, according to AL.com. The monument is a stone chair that was dedicated in 1893.
A Monday email sent to Alabama media by an anti-racism group calling itself White Lies Matter offered to return the statue to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, on one condition: that the UDC hang up a banner for a full day beginning Friday to celebrate the 156th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, which ended the Civil War.
“Failure to do so will result in the monument, an ornate stone chair, immediately being turned into a toilet,” the email said, according to AL.com. “If they do display the banner, not only will we return the chair intact, but we will clean it to boot.”
The group reportedly provided pictures of the stolen monument to the media.
White Lies Matter reportedly delivered the banner to the UDC, which bears a quote from Black liberation activist Assata Shakur, who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and has lived in Cuba since escaping from prison. It reads: “The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.”
The UDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News, but reportedly told AL.com that the theft and demand were “fake news.” Selma police and Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson, however, confirmed to AL.com that the monument was stolen in the early morning of March 19. Jackson also told AL.com that the chair was worth half a million dollars.
“This incident is sending Selma back into ‘The Twilight Zone,’’’ Jackson told AL.com. “There’s never a dull moment in Selma.”
In 2020, a year when protests for racial justice and against police brutality rocked the world, 94 Confederate monuments were removed—nearly twice the number of statues removed during the preceding five years combined, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Still, more than 700 Confederate monuments remain around the U.S., the SPLC said.
“Like most Confederate monuments,” White Lies Matter’s email to AL.com read, “[the chair] mostly exists to remind those whose freedom had to be purchased in blood, that there still exists a portion of our country that is more than willing to continue to spill blood to avoid paying that debt down.”