Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Let there not be light: BGA learns that Lightfoot's Chicago Monuments Project is anything but transparent

Abraham Lincoln: The Man
in Lincoln Park, designed by
Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
It seems like a decade ago but just two years ago Lori Lightfoot was running for mayor of Chicago. Her campaingn, in her call for transparency in municipal goverment, was "Let there be light."

But the Better Government Association reports that her Chicago Monuments Project, that has placed statues of  prominent Americans and others under "review." A committee was formed after the July riot outside Grant Park's Christopher Columbus statue. That monument, along with a Columbus statue standing in a West Side park, were sent to storage last summer.

From the BGA site:

But during its first six months of work, the committee’s deliberations were kept secret. In fact, the mayor’s monuments committee was designed that way.

"What’s said here, stays here," is a message city officials delivered to the committee members at their Oct. 14 meeting, according to a slim, 24-page packet of committee agendas and minutes records City Hall released recently to the Better Government Association. 

The committee is tasked with identifying any public monuments linked to white supremacy and injustice that "warrant attention" and could be removed. It ultimately flagged 41 problematic artworks, including statues of Columbus as well as Presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley.

But despite Lightfoot’s transparency pledge, there was no public notice of the committee’s six meetings, no record which 30 committee members attended or any details about what they recommended during roughly 12 hours of online deliberations.

 If you Tweet this post--and I urge you to do so--please use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project "Feedback page." Please be courteous but firm in your comments. 

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