Written by Associated Press
(AP) — A Confederate monument recently vandalized with red paint and the word “racists” has been removed from a Southern California cemetery.
The 9-foot-tall (2.7-meter) granite marker was placed at Santa Ana Cemetery by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2004.
The Orange County Cemetery District, which operates the cemetery, said the monument had become “an unsightly public nuisance” after the vandalism, and the district wanted to remove it quickly.
A crane was used to remove the monument Thursday.
The marker drew scrutiny after confrontations between white supremacist groups and protesters resulted in the death of a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The district said it began to look into records to prove who owned the burial plots where the monument stood and verify that it was approved by the board, The Orange County Register reported Friday.
Cemetery District General Manager Tim Deutsch said last month that the district had contacted the Orange County chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to discuss altering the monument but had stopped hearing from the group after several attempts. The district’s board then ordered the monument’s removal.
Robert Williams, who leads the Orange County chapter and statewide division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the newspaper that the chapter has a different perspective of the dispute.
“Nobody put it there in the middle of the night – there was a huge public ceremony,” said Williams.
He said there are plenty of records of the monument’s addition to the cemetery and that cemetery district leaders had chosen the monument’s location. He said he believes the district’s actions of seizing and removing the marker were illegal.
Deutsch said it’s costing the district an estimated $15,000 to remove and store the granite pillar, and Williams’ group would have to reimburse the district to place it back.
The California Sons Of Confederate Veterans responded on Facebook after seeing the removal, writing “Santa Ana spits on its own History.”
The monument had honored some of Orange County’s founding fathers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.