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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Allendale Township Board votes unanimously to keep controversial Civil War statue

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Michelle Jokisch Polo
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On Tuesday evening, with a prayer, Adam Elenbaas, supervisor of the Allendale Township Board of Trustees began the board meeting to discuss whether the board would vote to keep the statue or not. 

“Lord we thank you for the opportunity to do the business of the township.”

The meeting was held outside at Allendale Community Park about 100 yards from the controversial Civil War Statue.  Before voting, the board opened the meeting to public comment.

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Credit Michelle Jokisch Polo
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Statue depicting enslaved child at the feet of the Union and Confederate soldiers

“On January 1 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 5, 1863 Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, stated the: ‘May God prosper our cause and may we live to give to our children untarnished the rich inheritance which our fathers gave to us.’ The statue in the veteran’s Garden of Honor includes a slave child holding a piece of paper with the January 5th date. That is reason enough to remove the statue."

That’s Jeanine Gasper. She’s lived in Allendale for the last seven years. She’s one of the several dozen people who expressed her opinion during the meeting. While the majority of those present spoke for the removal of the statue – there were some like Phil Merchet, a resident of Allendale as well, who argued to keep the statue as it serves as a historical reminder. 

“I think it should be there as an x-ray.”

Up next is Candy Kraker one of the board members echoing the sentiments of the board.

“That little slave boy out there just reminds me of ‘Everybody is free. Thank God! Everybody is free.”

After a short discussion, the board voted to keep the statue in the park and to create a committee that will be tasked with determining how the Garden of Honor should be updated.

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