Since the May 7 discovery of vandalism of the monument to Denmark Vesey located in Charleston’s Hampton Park, city officials have made repairs to damaged caulking that became separated from its granite facings.
Vesey monument spokesman Dr. Bernard Powers said in addition to city authorities, community partners must be more committed as watchmen for the Vesey and other historic monuments.
Committee Chair Henry Darby May 7 received information the monument had been damaged and alerted city officials.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg viewed the monument and the city issued a statement saying parks department officials conducted an inspection of the statue and noted two areas of concern – the original caulking at the base of the statue’s platform had deteriorated and there was a very small chip on the left front corner of the platform itself, which had not been noted previously by city officials.
The city has made repairs to the monument.
“This statue of Denmark Vesey is a critical symbol of our citizens’ continuing commitment to racial reconciliation, and city officials will be keeping a close eye on it to ensure that it is protected from further damage or deterioration, officials said in their statement.
The monument’s creator, Sculptor Ed Dwight in a subsequent statement said, “There is no way for the top granite plate to separate from the vertical panel without a significant force applied to the sculpture, itself. In other words, in my opinion a rope or some strong strapping was attached to the sculpture in an attempt to pull the sculpture down. It could have been attached to the back of a car or truck. What is shown is not normal wear or defect of the granite vendor. A large force was applied to the statue.”
Powers said reasonably, the city only can be asked to increase police patrols that include closer inspection of the monument which can’t be seen from the street. Citizens also can assist by monitoring the monument. Despite the controversy surrounding the monument, Powers said it may be unreasonable to expect any special considerations.
“This is our history and we can’t assume it will be preserved by others,” he said. “We have to take on a higher level of commitment especially in the climate that exists currently.”
Dwight said Tuesday, “Unfortunately, since I have not seen what repairs have been made, I can’t comment on anything that has to be done to bring it back to its original state. I have my own idea as to how the sculpture got into disrepair and have expressed it to the sponsors, as well as a rep from the City. There is no way that this this sculpture and granite top could have been separated without a strong outside force. Gravity or poor workmanship would not have allowed this. I am happy to see that the City intervened and executed a repair. Problem is it may never be mended to its original state.
“I am working on a large memorial to Harriett Tubman in Beaufort, S.C. and will visit Charleston on my next trip down there. If I have any suggestions, I need them to be well informed by a personal viewing.”