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Lewis and Clark Expedition member's statue deemed 'monument to genocide'; petition demands its removal

'The George Rogers Clark statue is the worst statue of the many offensive statues in Charlottesville'

Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

A statue of George Rogers Clark — of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame — has been deemed a "monument to genocide" and a "shameful memory" in a petition that demands its removal from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, WVIR-TV reported.

'The worst statue'

"I think the George Rogers Clark statue is the worst statue of the many offensive statues in Charlottesville," David Swanson, who created the petition, told the station. As of Tuesday, the petition has garnered 451 signatures.

Swanson told WVIR that Clark favored Native American extermination — and participated.

"A lot of times, the wars against Native Americans are not treated as real wars because they aren't considered real people," he added to the station.

The statue was erected in 1921 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, WVIR said.

More from the petition:

Like the statues of [Robert E.] Lee and [Stonewall] Jackson in downtown Charlottesville, the statue of George Rogers Clark at UVA depicts a white man on a horse dressed for war. But, unlike Lee and Jackson, Clark is not alone. He has other men behind him with a gun and a barrel of gun powder, and he appears to be reaching back for a gun with his right hand. There are four Native Americans in front of him, including one infant. One of them appears defiant. One appears to be a woman carrying the infant. An article from the 1921 dedication of the statue in the University of Virginia Alumni News approvingly describes the woman in the memorial as being forced to beg for mercy for her baby. A successful 1997 application to add the statue to the National Register of Historic Places reads, in part: "She kneels in front of Clark holding a covered cradle board aloft as if to plead for a papoose within." At the dedication, then-UVA President Edwin Alderman credited George Rogers Clark with stealing large amounts of territory for an empire — the empire of Virginia, of which the land he claimed had been deemed a part. The Alumni News newspaper celebrated the statue when it was first created as "explaining the futility of resistance."

Swanson also told the station that while he's bothered that Charlottesville monuments are "all to war or genocide," he doesn't want them destroyed.

"I favor putting these things in a museum and presenting them as part of history," Swanson added to WVIR. "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."

Charlottesville was the stage for deadly riots two years ago that started as protests and counterprotests over Confederate statues there.

Clark also was a prominent figure during the Revolutionary War, the station said.

Swanson contacted University President Jim Ryan regarding the matter, and he passed on the information to members of the President's Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation, the Cavalier Daily reported.

"We may well make recommendations that the statue, being on university property and being deeply problematic, represents a moment for reconsideration," assistant dean and history professor Kirt von Daacke — co-chair of the commission — added to the school paper . "But we're only about a year into our work, we're not yet at the point of making recommendations for the University."

(H/T: Campus Reform)

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