The city of St. Louis announced Monday an agreement to dismantle its controversial Confederate monument by the end of the week. The memorial is one of the latest Civil War-era structures to be targeted for removal, as cities across the country push to dismantle statues and monuments honoring the war’s losing side.
Under the agreement, the Missouri Civil War Museum will oversee the removal of a 32-foot granite and bronze monument from its location in Forest Park, where it has stood for 103 years. The museum will pay for the monument’s removal and store it until a new location can be found. While the agreement stipulates that the monument cannot be publicly placed in the city or St. Louis County, it can be redisplayed at a Civil War museum, battlefield, or cemetery. Though the deadline to remove the monument is June 30, the structure could come down even sooner: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that workers began deconstructing the monument shortly after the settlement was announced.
“We came to this agreement really to avoid a potentially long, protracted legal battle and it is an outcome that both parties wanted,” Lyda Krewson, the mayor of St. Louis, said during a press conference, adding that: “Once it’s down and removed, the Missouri Civil War Museum owns it.”
Forest Park Forever, a nonprofit that partners with the city to maintain the park, describes the structure as depicting “the angel of the spirit of the Confederacy,” which hovers above a bronze statue of a family sending a soldier off to war. The monument was vandalized last month with spray painted messages including “stop defending injustice,” “this is treason,” and “black lives matter” following protests over its removal.
Both the United Daughters of the Confederacy Missouri Division and the St. Louis Confederate Monument Association were signatories to Monday’s agreement. “We hope that it ends up being displayed again,” Patsy Limpus, the president of both organizations, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, adding: “We need to learn from our history.”
St. Louis is one of several cities across the country to remove Confederate monuments—a push that was accelerated following the murder of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. Last month, the city of New Orleans dismantled the last of four statues honoring the Confederacy. A Confederate statue outside Kentucky’s University of Louisville was also removed (though it was relocated elsewhere).