Confederate Monuments Removed From Arizona State Land

Confederate Monuments Removed From Arizona State Land (2)
Courtesy of Rebecca Olsen McHood
(The monuments were removed overnight following the July 22 announcement. See the statement from the state Department of Administration below.)

Two confederate monuments on Arizona State land, including one at the Arizona Capitol, will soon be moved to private property.

The Arizona departments of Administration and Transportation announced the relocation today, releasing a June 30 letter from the United Daughters of the Confederacy that said the groups want the monuments relocated immediately "to avoid any further damage, vandalism, or complete destruction."

The announcement comes at a time of cultural strife in America, partly whipped up by President Trump, and partly by a breaking point of racial injustice that was reached for many Americans after witnessing on video the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The protests triggered by Floyd's death led to renewed calls to tear down monuments seen by Black or indigenous people as hurtful.

Both the monument at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza at the capitol, and a second monument along U.S. 60 near the unincorporated city of Gold Canyon, will be moved at no expense to the state, the group's letter says.

"ADOA has been in contact with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and is working with the organization and ADOT to expedite their request to have their monuments returned," said an ADOA statement.

The monuments have the been source of anguish for many residents of Arizona who feel their place on state land represents lingering support for the racism of the slave-owning South. Arizona was briefly a confederate state; Picacho Peak off Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson was the site of a famous, though small, skirmish of the Civil War in 1862 that southern troops won. The monument at the Capitol, put up by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1962 to commemorate the event, was the first such monument in what would become the Bolin Memorial Plaza.

Both the U.S. 60 monuments have been targets of criticism, and sometimes vandalism, over the years, including recently.

"These monuments were gifted to the state but are now in need of repair but due to the current political climate, we believe it unwise to repair them where they are located," the United Daughters of the Confederacy letter says, in asking the state to re-gift the monuments back to three chapters of the group. The group added that it doesn't seek, nor would it accept, money to help with the removal and relocation.

(Update: The state Department of Administration released this statement on the morning of July 23:)

"Overnight two confederate memorials were removed from state property and returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the private organization that originally placed the monuments on state property.

"Per the group’s June 30 letter, the state approved the expedited request.

"The monuments were located at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in downtown Phoenix and near US-60 outside of Gold Canyon, AZ and are currently in the possession of the United Daughters of the Confederacy."

Read the June 30 letter from the United Daughters of the Confederacy below:

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.