An ‘anti-racist’ group calling itself ‘White Lies Matter’ stole a $500,000 stone chair dedicated to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis and claims it will use the monument as a ‘toilet’ unless a Confederate women’s group hangs a banner outside its headquarters bearing the words of a black militant who killed a state trooper.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair was first noticed missing on March 19 after it was taken from the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.
The stunt comes as a debate has raged around the country over monuments to historical figures who were involved in the Confederacy, with Black Lives Matter advocates pushing to remove them and others saying history shouldn’t be erased.
The group claiming responsibility for the theft, ‘White Lies Matter,’ sent emails to local media outlets in Alabama spelling out its supposed demands for the return of the chair. It isn’t clear who’s behind the ‘White Lies’ group.
According to AL.com, the group claims it will not return the chair unless the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a women’s club that says it is dedicated to preserving the history of its Confederate relatives, hangs a banner outside its Richmond, Virginia headquarters at 1pm on Friday.
The banner would say: ‘The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.’
The women’s group has said memorial statues and monuments are ‘shared American history’ and should remain in place. It hasn’t issued a response to the supposed ransom demands. DailyMail.com has contacted the UDC for comment.
The banner, which White Lies Matter wants displayed and claims was already delivered to the UDC, bears a quote from Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army terrorist who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.
Shakur, 73, escaped prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. She remains wanted by the FBI.
According to The Montgomery Advertiser, the stolen chair stands at about 3ft tall and weighs several hundred pounds. Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward leading to its return.
The chair was dedicated to Davis by Ladies of Selma in 1893, more than 20 years after he last visited Selma.
It once showed detailing of ferns, tree trunks and branches before it became weathered, the Advertiser reports. A dedication to Davis was once visible on the seat.
Selma police said that the chair was likely stolen sometime between midnight and 3am on March 19.
The theft comes near a significant date in American history: Friday is the 156th anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.
The ‘White Lies Matter’ group apparently wants to commemorate the date with its demands for a banner-hanging.
‘Failure to do so will result in the monument, an ornate stone chair, immediately being turned into a toilet,’ the email from White Lies Matter states, essentially holding the chair for ransom.
‘If they do display the banner, not only will we return the chair intact, but we will clean it to boot.’
The UDC is a historical and commemorative organization that ‘honors the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States.’
The Dallas County, Alabama, District Attorney’s Office has confirmed the theft and the ransom demand.
‘This incident is sending Selma back into “The Twilight Zone”,’ the DA, Michael Jackson, told AL.com.