Slay seeks removal of Confederate memorial in Forest Park

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The memorial was dedicated in December 1914.

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has decided a monument in Forest Park celebrating the Confederacy should be moved to a museum, but that private donors will have to pay for it. It has stood in the park for a century, but some feel in the 21st century, monuments to the southern cause during the Civil War are out of place in public places and belong in museums.

It’s an argument some began making as an attachment to a national debate about the appropriateness of displaying the Confederate Flag rekindled after the racially motivated church mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I think it is about time,” said Reverend Linden Bowie, pastor at Zion Travelers Baptist Church in Riverview. “If you put it in its proper perspective, it could be helpful as a teaching tool of what our past did hold, and how we can prevent that sort of thing from continuing on into the future.”

When the controversy began following the Charleston shootings, Mayor Slay commissioned a task force to study the future of the memorial. On Christmas Eve, the mayor’s office announced that he agrees with the group’s findings that private money should be raised to move the memorial out of Forest Park.

“No one is proposing that it be hidden, it’s the exact opposite,” said Eddie Roth, the city’s Human Services Director, who also served as the secretary to the memorial task force. “This monument deserves a very prominent place in which its true history can be understood and it’s not altogether flattering history.”

Some of those opposed to moving the memorial do not have an altogether flattering assessment of the mayor’s decision.

“Clearly, this is political pandering,” said Darrell Maples, Missouri Division Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It is not going to change anything. It is a disgraceful act of disrespect to what are American veterans.”

Moving the monument would not be cheap. It would cost nearly $130,000 to transport it to the Missouri Civil War Museum, which has agreed to accept it even though it has no place right now to display it.

“We will see how the community responds,” Roth said. “It took the Daughters of the Confederacy 15 or 20 years to raise the money to put it up. I suspect it would take less time to put together money to move it from Forest Park.”