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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 board votes to keep controversial Civil War Statue in its Garden of Honor

Photo of Allendale Township Board of Trustee members listening to public comment during an outdoor meeting
Kylie Ambu

After a year of protests, counter protests and ongoing discussions, Allendale Township's Board of Trustees have voted to keep its Civil War Statue inside its Garden of Honor at Allendale Community Park.

The motion, which passed 5-2, also includes repairing the statue after damage it saw over the year. It was proposed by Trustee Kenneth Murillo and backed by all board members with the exception of Trustee Barb VanderVeen and Township Supervisor, Adam Elenbaas.

The decision goes against recommendations of the township's resident committee which was brought together to foster solutions and insight on the matter. The committee presented a proposal to the board earlier this month, recommending the current statue be replaced with a three-part statue depicting diverse Union soldiers; however, the committee was not unanimous in its proposal.

Prior to Murillo's motion, VanderVeen proposed moving the existing statue to the township's historical museum, but the motion failed 5-2, with VanderVeen and Elenbaas on the lower end of the numbers.

The meeting saw more than an hour of heated public comment, with dozens of community members in attendance. Board members expressed frustration over having to make a decision amidst such division.

“No matter what our decision is, there are people who are going to be unhappy,” Allendale Township Supervisor, Adam Elenbaas said.

The statue has been controversial, with some calling it racist, and portrays a Union and a Confederate solider standing back-to-back with a child slave at their feet. Those in favor of the statue remaining said it's a part of history that should be remembered.

While the township board went against its committee's recommendations to replace the statue, members did express interest other elements of the group's proposal, such as creating more, diverse statues to feature around the area.

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