ALLENDALE, Mich. — A West Michigan man is defending himself and the other people involved after they allegedly damaged a controversial statue in Allendale this weekend.
Mitch Kahle, founder of the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, says around 6 p.m. Friday a handful of people from his organization, including himself, and Justice for Black Lives, another West Michigan group, “tarred and feathered” the Confederate soldier part of the Civil War statue in Allendale Township’s Veteran’s Garden of Honor.
The black paint and feathers have since been cleaned off.
“Confederate soldiers are traitors to the nation,” said Kahle. “They’re not veterans, they never have been, and so, we feel that they needed to be treated with disgrace and not honor.”
This summer, calls for the statue’s removal began, with community members saying it represents racial inequality and wrongly memorializes the Confederacy. Several people in Allendale have defended the statue though, saying it’s part of history.
“We just have a point to be made and we’re just trying to make it in the best way we can so that it makes an impact,” said Kahle. “We’re hoping this brings the township board one step closer to deciding that it’s a better to idea to remove this statue than to continue to try and defend what is, in essence, a racist monument.”
In June, the township board voted to keep the statue as is, instead forming an advisory committee to look into future changes. That committee has yet to announce any findings.
“We’re not going to get tired and go away; we’re going to make sure that the statue is removed.”
FOX 17 reached out to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office to see if a police report has been filed in regards to the incident but has not heard back.
Kahle says he and the others involved are not worried about any criminal charges.
“There’s no damage; we have no concern whatsoever about anything,” said Kahle. “This is a free speech demonstration, and we’re prepared to defend that in a court of law if that happens.”
Allendale Township Supervisor Adam Elenbaas did not return FOX 17’s request for comment.