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INDIANAPOLIS – A fence now surrounds a near south side monument while park and city leaders decide its fate.

The Garfield Park monument has been at the center of discussions in recent days. On Saturday, an Indianapolis man was arrested for allegedly vandalizing the monument with a hammer.

Since then, park rangers have kept watch over the monument. James Ford has joined them, too.

“I’m here and we’re going to protect this,” said Ford, armed with his AK-47. He got to the park around 8 a.m. Monday and said others watched the monument on Saturday.

When the park closes, the men watch from outside park property.

“The rift raft that comes through here trying to tear it up isn’t going to happen,” Ford said. “If the state says, yes they are going to move it and put it somewhere else, I’m going to follow it to make sure it goes there. You all aren’t going to destroy it and if you do, I’m going to make sure everyone knows you destroyed it.”

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, a training center for the north during the first part of the war. It was located on the north side of Indianapolis.

Ford said the monument needs to stay up, rather than destroyed, because future generations can learn from it.

“I want to keep that there so my kids don’t make the same mistakes,” he said. “We don’t believe in racism.”

City and park officials continue to weigh in on what should become of the statue. No one has said they want the white granite monument destroyed.

“The bodies have been removed and taken to Crown Hill Cemetery, and it would be appropriate to remove the monument from park’s property and taken to some other place,” said city-county councilor Monroe Gray, a democrat who represents the city’s eighth district.

Gray said the city and parks need to figure out how to pay for the monument to get moved and a location before anything can be done.

“If the people who support this and behind this want to do something with it, they could do a fundraiser to move it,” said Gray, who is also the majority leader of the city-county council. “That way it would remain in good shape and they could preserve it in some place of their choice.”

Officials have not provided information as to when any sort of decision might be reached.