Petition Hopes to Remove George Rogers Clark Statue in Charlottesville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville man is circulating a petition for the removal of a statue he says brings back a shameful memory in a public space.
"I think the George Rogers Clark statue is the worst statue of the many offensive statues in Charlottesville," David Swanson, who created the petition, said.
More than 200 people have already signed the petition to remove the statue from the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and West Main Street, which was originally placed there in 1921. In 1997, the statue was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Swanson says it bothers him that Charlottesville monuments are "all to war or genocide," but he doesn't want them destroyed.
"I favor putting these things in a museum and presenting them as part of history," Swanson said. "What I'm against is putting them in our central, public space and celebrating them as if they are of our time and place...as if we want them there."
Swanson believes the statue does not qualify as a war memorial. If designated a war memorial, the statue would not easily be removed. Clark was a prominent figure during the Revolutionary War, during which he acquired northwest territory.
Swanson says Clark advocated for exterminating Native Americans, and participated in the act.
"A lot of times, the wars against Native Americans are not treated as real wars because they aren't considered real people," Swanson said.
Swanson says he contacted University of Virginia President Ryan, who said he was interested and referred the matter to a department to look into. A UVA spokesperson says President Ryan has shared the information with the Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation. That commission is currently working on the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, which is in the midst of construction at the university.
The University of Virginia says it's looking into the matter, as the statue sits on the school's property.