EDGEWATER — A statue of Abraham Lincoln in Senn Park was vandalized on Thanksgiving Day by an anonymous group trying to highlight the president’s treatment of Indigenous people, organizers said.
“The Young Lincoln” statue in Senn Park, 5887 N. Ridge Ave., was strewn with red paint and tagged with slogans including, “Thanks’giving’ is fake. Avenge all that is taken.”
Members of a group claiming responsibility for the vandalism said it was done in protest of Lincoln’s ordered execution of the Dakota 38, who were publicly hanged for participating in the Sioux Uprising in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota.
Other slogans painted near the statue include “colonizer,” “land back” and “avenge the Dakota 38.”
The action is also a criticism of Thanksgiving, a holiday proclaimed by Lincoln that the group says glosses over pilgrims’ treatments of Native Americans, organizers said.
“Thanksgiving is a celebration of the beginning of the European invasion of a land that was already inhabited by Native peoples,” members of the group said in a statement. “It is a celebration of the beginning of the murder and displacement of millions of Native peoples. The true way to honor Native people is to give land back.”
The vandalism also included QR links to information about Lincoln’s treatment of Indigenous people.
A Chicago Park District spokesperson said a police report had been filed and the remaining paint will be removed by Monday.
Some of the graffiti appeared to have been removed as of Friday morning though red paint remained on the statue.
The Sioux Uprising was in response to the U.S. government’s refusal to pay the Dakota tribes in exchange for land they were forced to cede. The Sioux tribe faced starvation and other hardships due to a harsh winter, crop failure and being forced onto two small reservations, the activists said.
Lincoln signed an execution order authorizing the men be killed, the largest one-day mass execution in the country’s history.
Anonymous organizers also targeted the “Standing Lincoln” statue in Lincoln Park on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oct. 10, pouring red paint on it and spray painting phrases including “Avenge the Dakota 38” on its base and ground nearby. That act also sought to draw attention to the president’s condemnation of the Sioux fighters.
It is unclear if the same group is responsible for both incidents. A request for comment was not returned immediately Friday.
Edgewater’s “Young Lincoln” statue was created in 1945 by artist Charles Keck. It was moved to Senn Park in 1997 after being loaned from the Chicago Public Library to the Park District.
It sits at the former site of the Seven Mile House, where Lincoln was rumored to have visited while on the campaign trail in 1860 — though the Edgewater Historical Society argues the meeting was “highly unlikely.”
“Young Lincoln” is listed among 40 statues in Chicago that could be problematic, according to the city’s Chicago Monuments Project launched last year.
The committee was formed weeks after Lightfoot “temporarily removed” three statues of Columbus, including one in Grant Park that had been the scene of a violent clash between protesters and Chicago police officers.
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