No Leads Yet In Statue Vandalism
The incident involving anti-Semitism and anti-African American hate messages left on statues at Dow Park was discussed by the city’s Human Rights Commission during its July meeting.
Justin Hubbard, Human Rights Commission member and Jamestown Justice Coalition coordinator, said he was told by the Jamestown Police Department that there are no leads to finding who perpetrated the crime on July 4 of putting a Swastika, the words “White Power” and the numbers “1488” on the statues created by the late David Poulin.
The statues honor Silas Shearman, the acknowledged leader of the Underground Railroad line through Jamestown, and Catherine Harris, a free Black woman and station master whose home on West Seventh Street is the site of a historical marker. One of the three statues that make up the monument was stolen in the spring.
Hubbard also said JPD has informed him they don’t believe the two crimes – the hate messages and theft of one of the statues – are related. He said JPD believes someone stole the statue to sell the metal scrap for money.
The crime has made the national hate symbols database the Anti-Defamation League keeps track of, Hubbard said.
“To see Jamestown on a nationwide list was pretty surprising to me and pretty upsetting, honestly,” he said.
Hubbard organized the Jamestown Justice Coalition rally that took place in Dow Park on July 10. He has received a lot of positive feedback following the rally. He said that local foundations are looking into replacing the statue that was stolen. He added that city employees, like Dan Stone, city parks manager, have performed landscaping at the park to make the statues more visible from nearby roads and have added a security camera at the park.
The Rev. Uvie Stewart Jr., commission chairman, said he knew there were registered hate groups in the area, but this is the first time he has seen an incident like this of anti-Semitic and anti-African American markings being left in the city. He hopes it doesn’t turn into a violent issue where two groups might have a standoff in the city.
“This makes our work to promote togetherness and community a little more difficult,” he said.
Chris Blakeslee, commission member, hopes that the people involved in the crime aren’t part of a larger national hate group. He said if they are part of a larger national group that means they could have funding and be organized.
“We’ve got a whole set of other problems if we’re dealing with a national group with national funding or organizational means behind it,” he said.
The commission members decided it will write a statement that will be released to local media outlets sometime this week.
In other business:
¯ Commission members discussed the decision by the Jamestown Public Schools District Board of Education to no longer use any Native American imagery as part of district logos, but will not change the “Red Raider” nickname. Several members of the commission expressed their disappointment in the school board’s decision not to change the nickname.
In April, the commission approved a resolution supporting a change to the Red Raider name. The group also approved that members of the commission should attend a Jamestown Board of Education meeting to discuss their decision with school officials.
The commission’s discussion during its April meeting on the JHS mascot started with a letter written to the group by Autumn Dahlgren, a member of Jamestown Justice Coalition Mascot Petition Task Force. Dahlgren wrote that a petition was started in June 2020 supporting the JHS mascot name change. She stated that more than 1,000 people have signed the petition supporting the cause. She added that talks with Jamestown Public Schools District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker have been productive during the last year, but a name change is still needed.
Hubbard said he plans to attend the next Jamestown Board of Education meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, to express his disappointment that there will be no name change.