A Confederate monument valued at $500,000 was stolen in March from a Selma cemetery, officials confirmed Monday.
Monday morning, a group that claims to have taken the monument, the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair, sent emails to AL.com saying they will give the chair to the United Daughters of the Confederacy if that organization agrees to hang a banner outside its Richmond, Va. headquarters.
In those emails, a group calling itself White Lies Matter say they stole the chair from the Old Live Oak Cemetery and are demanding that the UDC hang a large banner at 1 p.m. on Friday – the anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender in the Civil War – and leave it there for 24 hours.
The banner bears a quote from Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army activist wanted by the FBI for the 1973 murder of a New Jersey state trooper: “The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.”
White Lies Matter said it had already delivered the banner to the UDC.
“Failure to do so will result in the monument, an ornate stone chair, immediately being turned into a toilet,” the email states. “If they do display the banner, not only will we return the chair intact, but we will clean it to boot.”
A woman who answered the phone at the Virginia offices of the UDC said she had heard the reports of the theft and ransom demand were “fake news” and there was no immediate response to an email to the organization seeking further comment.
Selma police and District Attorney Michael Jackson confirmed the theft and said they were aware of the ransom demand.
The felony theft occurred sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. on March 19, according to a Selma police report.
District Attorney Michael Jackson said the chair is reportedly worth $500,000.
“This incident is sending Selma back into ‘The Twilight Zone,’” he said. “There’s never a dull moment in Selma.”
There is a $5,000 reward leading to information about the disappearance of the chair, described as being about 3-feet-tall and weighing several hundred pounds, The Montgomery Advertiser reported.
“The Ladies of Selma presented the stone chair in memory of Jefferson Davis in 1893, over 20 years after he’d last visited the city,” that report stated.
In 2012, a bronze bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was stolen from the cemetery.
“Like most Confederate monuments, (the chair) mostly exists to remind those who’s freedom had to be purchased in blood, that there still exists a portion of our country that is more than willing to continue to spill blood to avoid paying that debt down,” the White Lies Matter email states.
“We took their toy, and we don’t feel guilty about it. They never play with it anyway. They just want it there to remind us what they’ve done, what they are still willing to do. But the south won’t rise again. Not as the Confederacy. Because that coalition left out a large portion of its population. All that’s left of that nightmare is an obscenely heavy chair that’s a throne for a ghost whose greatest accomplishment was treason.”
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