A statue of the young Abraham Lincoln has been defaced with red paint and words referencing problems with Native American tribes.
The statue has stood in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood since the city donated it to Senn Park in 1997.
And over Thanksgiving weekend, park residents found the statue covered in splatters of red paint along with the words “SETTLER” and “LAND OF RETURN.” The vandals may also have written “Dakota 38” in a possible reference to 38 Dakota Sioux members executed on Lincoln’s orders after the American-Dakota War in 1862, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The statue was one of many to be examined in the city as part of a commission created after the 2020 protests that targeted statues of figures with controversial histories. The debate over former US presidents has been particularly contentious.
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Chicago had removed a statue of Christopher Columbus on the recommendation of a city commission, but the same commission suggested further revision of the statue of young Lincoln.
But Lincoln, famous for helping end legal slavery in the United States, has faced criticism in recent years following a renewed focus on his role in the Sioux uprising.
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Armed conflict between the US and various East Dakota gangs raged for six weeks in southwestern Minnesota during the height of the Civil War after four Dakota youths attacked and killed five settlers.
The war left 358 settlers, 77 US soldiers and 29 volunteer militiamen dead. The number of Dakota victims is unknown, but Lincoln commuted the sentences of 303 of the 498 Dakota men captured, thus approving the execution of 38 Dakota men.
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The statue of young Lincoln is the second vandalized in Chicago in the past six weeks: anonymous vandals similarly spray-painted a statue of Lincoln in Chicago’s Lincoln Park in early October, writing the words “Dethrone the Colonists,” Return to earth! the Dakota 38″.
The group also released lists of the 38 Dakota men and said it wanted to “debunk the myth of Lincoln the great liberator.”
Chicago police do not have anyone in custody, but detectives will continue to investigate.