MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin has received $60,000 in federal grants to pay for the restoration of two statues outside the state Capitol that were torn down and damaged by protesters this summer, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.
The money will go toward restoring and reinstalling the statues of Col. Hans Christian Heg and “Forward.”
Protesters in June broke off a leg and tore the head off the 9-foot-6-inch tall Heg statue. The 7-foot-tall “Forward” statue was scratched and dented and one of its fingers was broken off.
Heg was a Norwegian immigrant who became an outspoken abolitionist, serving in the 15th Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863. His statue, funded by donations from the Norwegian Society of America, had stood outside the state Capitol since 1926.
The original “Forward” statue represented Wisconsin at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A pamphlet for the event said the female figure was standing at the prow of a boat surging through the water. It has come to symbolize both the state’s “Forward” motto and women’s rights.
That statue was first installed 125 years ago but was replaced with a bronze replica in 1998.
The protest that led to the statues being toppled was one in a series of demonstrations that shook downtown Madison and the country after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died on Memorial Day while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
The grants to restore and reinstall the statues came from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The statues should be reinstalled in the summer of 2021, Evers‘ office said.
“I look forward to not only getting Col. Heg and Forward back up on their feet at the Capitol, but also exploring new options to make the Capitol grounds a more accurate reflection of our state’s diversity and history,” Evers said in a statement.
Evers also announced the creation of a committee working on a proposal to erect a statue outside the Capitol honoring Vel Phillips.
Phillips was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, the first Black woman to win a seat on the Milwaukee City Council and the first to become a judge in Wisconsin. She served one term as secretary of state, from 1979 to 1983, and died in 2018 at the age of 95.
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