It Started With GWAR: Multiple Petitions Spring up to Replace Torn Down Statues With Popular Music Figures
Last week the collateral damage from the country-wide protests in the US over George Floyd’s murder took an interesting turn. As part of the protests, statues in multiple cities that many considered to be landmarks to racism and oppression have been vandalized or torn down. Robert E. Lee, a number of Christopher Columbus statues and even Winston Churchill in the UK have come under fire from protesters.
This tearing down of racist figures has become a stark visual representation of the racial revolution but now the issue of what to replace them with has been raised, somewhat in line with the #BLM movement. Last Wednesday, a partially tongue-in-cheek petition began to circulate for a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA to be replaced with one of the late rock and roll alien and GWAR frontman, Oderus Urungus.
The petition wasn’t totally random. The body of David Brockie, who played the obscene and malformed rocker was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond near where he grew up in Fairfax, VA. As Oderus’s character in GWAR was supposed to be immortal, after Brockie died the band’s next tour with replacement frontwoman Vulvatron continued the canon for him. The tour featured a performance piece where Mr. Perfect says he stole Urungus’s immortality by impaling him on his own sword.
Once the petition began to gain steam, the band voiced their support for the idea. Drummer JizMak DaGusha visited the now Lee-less statue in Richmond last week and gave a simple statement about Lee: “fuck that guy.” The petition now has almost 50,000 signatures and can be viewed and signed here.
The Orderus Urungus petition only began six days ago, but since then there have been more such petitions to join it. In Nashville, Tennessee, a greatly contested statue of KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest in front of the state Capitol Building was voted to be removed before the #BLM protests started but it has yet to be torn down. Shortly after the Oderus Urungus petition began, another citizen started one to replace the statue of Forrest with one of Dolly Parton. Citing Parton’s “philanthropic heart,” the petition calls for all confederate statues in Tennessee to be reomved and says Parton is a “real Tennessee hero” and “worked her whole life to bring us closer together.” This petition has also almost reached its goal of 15,000 signatures, so to join those supporters, click here.
Last and certainly not least is Minnesota, where the tragic events of last month sparked the current outrage and conversations about racial injustice. A statue near St. Paul (joint capital with Minneapolis) of Christopher Columbus was torn down as part of the protests and almost as soon as it was, a petition began to circulate to have it replaced with Prince, who is famously from Minneapolis. A a beloved figure in music, in his hometown and as a champion of human rights, Prince seems a fitting replacement and it actually seems surprising that he doesn’t have a statue yet. Click here to sign this petition.
It’s likely that more petitions both to tear down statues of racist figures and to replace them with popular figures will continue to crop up and it seems like a great symbol to mark the moment when the world really began to wake up to this issue. Already in Bristol, UK, ideas to replace the statue of known slave trader Edward Colston what was torn down last week are flying. The best one comes from enigmatic street artist, Banksy and sort of encapsulates the spirit of all these acts: “…We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protesters in the act of pulling him down…Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”