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Indianapolis councilors consider moving monument for Confederate soldiers in Garfield Park

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-- On the heels of violence and unrest in Charlottesville, VA, some councilors are asking that a monument for Confederate soldiers in an Indianapolis park be moved to another location.

The monument in Garfield Park marks the lives of more than 1,600 Confederate soldiers and sailors who died while prisoners of war at Camp Morton. Thursday, members of the Democratic Caucus requested the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation find it a new home.

Council majority leader Monroe Gray wrote in a statement in part, "This monument to Confederate prisoners of war holds no historical significance to President Garfield and is a painful reminder that slaves were forced to fight for the Confederacy in order to prolong their own slavery. "

The Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation said the memorial is not in a location appropriate for its original purpose. In a statement it said it would work with councilors and its philanthropic partners to explore options to remove the monument from Garfield Park and ensure if it is on public display, it's within a historical context "...that does not affect a Parks system that belongs to all Indianapolis residents."

Council President Maggie Lewis called for a conversation on the statue, writing "We must not ignore that the purpose of the Confederacy was to preserve slavery.  Although the Garfield Park monument may be less offensive than others, it still merits a thoughtful and peaceful conversation about whether Garfield Park is the best location for it."

After an article was published on the monument, some councilors said they started getting calls and texts from constituents wanting to know more. Council minority leader Michael McQuillen said he and Lewis are calling for an inventory of plaques and monuments in Marion County.

"We both quickly realized that we don't really know how many different monuments there are in Marion County, where they are, what's on them, if there are things that might be seeming offensive to some people or not," he said.

McQuillen said he hasn't had any conversations about moving the monument. "I just think it's important to know what's out there and be prepared," he said.

But some park visitors said they do not have any issues with the monument's current location. "It's just like a piece of history, I like looking at the names on it," Katrina Nichols said.

"It's just a memorial to people that served this country, doesn't matter if you agreed on which side they are, they were prisoners, they passed away and we honor their memory by having the memorial," Zane Boucher said.

Councilor Gray said the remains of the soldiers were moved to Crown Hill Cemetery, which he suggests would be an example of a more fitting location for the headstone.