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New push to remove controversial statue of General Custer in Monroe

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 18:42:47-04

MONROE, Mich. (WXYZ) — A historic statue in the city of Monroe is at the center of a debate over racism and representation.

The statue of General George Custer, whose wife was from Monroe, has been there for more than 100 years.

Now, many are saying its time for it to go.

Many associate General Custer with victory for the North during the Civil War. But it’s his role in other parts of American history that’s sparking criticism from many in Monroe, saying this statue doesn’t represent their values.

“He’s centered in the middle of downtown Monroe as it’s centerpiece. We all hate going there,” says Katybeth Davis.

There’s now a petition pushing to remove Custer’s statue from the city. It has almost 8,000 signatures.

Petitioners want the statue down because they say it represents a man glorified for his role in genocide, speaking of the atrocities Custer committed against the Native Americans.

Graham Denton, who’s lived in Monroe most of his life, views the statue as a symbol of oppression. He too would like to see it gone but says this isn’t about erasing history.

“We could even place the statue somewhere like a museum or something like that,” says Denton. “He helped end slavery. But we need to look at the full picture to truly understand what someone is. Not a lot of people know the truth about what Custer did in the American Indian wars.”

As we approached the statue to get video, we met someone else, also angry that it’s still here. It was built in 1910.

“It still represents a lot of oppression a lot of hatred,” says Fabian Ortega.

A statement from a city spokesperson says in part:

The City of Monroe is aware of recent online petitions circulating both for and against the removal of the statue of General George Custer….. To date, there has not been any discussion with the City Council, City Administration, or the broader Monroe community regarding the removal of and/or relocation of the Custer Equestrian Monument.

In order for any action to be taken, this issue must be brought before city county.

“During my lifetime, this is probably the greatest chance we’ve had to do something about this statue,” says Denton.