Monday, June 19, 2006

Richmond, Week 2

Today was a very productive and enjoyable day. I learned two important facts about Richmond that I'm embarassed to say I hadn't known before. In the past ten years, Richmond has not had one, but THREE controversies over monuments. All three have divided the city down racial lines.

Of couse, there was the Ashe monument.

But then in 1999 another controversy erupted. City decided to build a floodwall (that doubled as a mural on it to famous Virginians) along the James river. The day before the mural was set to be completed, the Richmond Times-Dispatch showed a picture of Robert E Lee being put up on the mural. Of course, Lee wasn't the only Virginian to be part of the art-wall. Lee was to share a panel of the floodwall with Powhatan, and Gabriel Prosser, the leader of an antebellum slave revolt.

But black City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin said he was offended by the visage of the Confederate general.

The Times-Dispatch reports:
"The portrait angered City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin, who led a protest yesterday and was ready to propose a boycott of tomorrow's Canal Walk opening. At midday, the 6th District councilman met with the men in charge of the Canal Walk development. The district includes the floodwall.

By the end of the day, El-Amin claimed victory. "We got what we wanted. The mural's coming down," said El-Amin, congratulating those who decided to take Lee's portrait down."

Five months later, after countless protests and counter-protests, Lee's face was finally returned to the mural.

But that wasn't the end of the story on Canal Walk.

Less than two months after the mural went up, an arsonist threw a molotov cocktail at Lee's image.

In an ironic use of the law, the SCV and other heritage organizations insisted that the desecration be investigated as a hate crime.

Over El-Amin's protests, the image of Lee was eventually restored.

Ok, tomorrow I'll tell you about the other, even more ridiculous bruhaha over another monument. But first, I'm going to bed.


At 10:33 AM, Anonymous No me frosbita usted said...

Your post reminded me of an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent that I saw recently, in which arson was committed against several churches, and some of the attacks involved molotov cocktails. It turned out that the crimes were masterminded by a young man who was angry at his mother and purported half-brother, who was actually his father (this was the source of his anger). One of the churches he burned was the place where he was baptized as a child, and he got satisfaction out of throwing a molotov cocktail at the baptismal pool. It seems like the vandalism you described in your post could only be called a "hate crime" under the loosest definition of that term (i.e. one under which any use of a molotov cocktail is considered a hate crime), such that even the church arsons committed on Law and Order might be considered a hate crime by those standards. I am at work and bored.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous mwho?! said...

(reposting because it didn't work the first time):

you go to bed at 4:48 pm? you're become more of an old woman than i have.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Jinxy said...

We luvs us some Sa'ad El-Amin. You better bring yo' stuff!


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