A self-identified “anti-racist action group” made good on its threat to turn a stolen Confederate monument into a toilet.
The group, White Lies Matter, allegedly swiped the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair earlier this week in Selma, Alabama, a monument worth $500,000. White Lies Matter dropped their demand for a ransom in exchange for the stolen seat on Wednesday and defaced it anyway.
The group had initially demanded that the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put up a banner featuring a quote by former Black Liberation Army activist Assata Shakur in front of their headquarters in Virginia on Friday, the anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender in the Civil War. The UDC, a women’s organization for descendants of Confederate soldiers, is a leading voice in preserving Confederate monuments and falsely denying that their ancestors’ cause was rooted in white supremacy.
However, White Lies Matter told AL.com on Wednesday night that because the UDC gave “every indication that they had no intention” of meeting the demand, they “decided to move forward prematurely with the alteration of the chair.”
The alleged monument-turned-toilet thieves distributed photos to several outlets showing an unidentified group member decked out in a Confederate uniform cheerfully squatting over a big hole on the chair with his pants around his ankles — and waving a tattered Confederate battle flag for good measure.
An unnamed spokesperson for White Lies Matter told the Washington Post on Wednesday night that they were in the process of returning the monument at that moment by dropping it off at a “secure location” where the UDC could pick it up.
“You know, we already cleaned it, we already got all the moss off of it, took a bunch of brushes to it, made it nice and pretty,” the spokesperson said.
He said that the purpose of the whole scheme was to highlight how, in the face of Black liberation movements like Black Lives Matter, groups like the UDC and “normal civilians from the South” have a “tendency to pick objects…over that of human life and over the needs of human beings.”
Linda Edwards, the president general of the UDC, could not be reached for comment.
Patricia Godwin, the UDC member who reported the theft, told TPM over the phone that she was unaware of the new development but welcomed the “good news” of the monument’s return.
“All I would like to see is…the chair returned back to its rightful place in good condition, unscathed,” Godwin said.
She brushed off the White Lies Matter’s claims to have used it as a toilet, suggesting that the photos may have been Photoshopped.
Godwin expressed more anger over the overall “extortion” attempt, and accused groups like White Lies Matter of trying to “dictate history.”
The UDC member would not say whether she believed the fact that Civil War was fought over slavery, only that she was “offended by those who are trying to rewrite history and impose their own ideas and their own opinions about days gone by.”