The moves to clear Confederate monuments from display now stretches from coast to coast. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery will remove its Confederate monument, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. The owners announced the move, noting they had received requests from activists, which grew after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. Threats of vandalism also played a role.
Unlike parks in Charlottesville, or those in Baltimore where they removed statues early on Wednesday, the cemetery is private land. One of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles, Hollywood Forever has a number of famous celebrities, actors, and directors buried and entombed there. It's just next to Paramount Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The decision to remove the monument, though, did not lie fully with the cemetery. The monument, which is about 6 foot tall and has been in its present location since 1925 next to about 30 Confederate soldiers' graves, belongs to the Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The group finally decided to move the monument on Tuesday.
President and co-owner of the cemetery, Tyler Cassity, explained the difference to KABC 7 News:
Not only is it private property, but it's private property within private property with bodies buried there to be remembered. So to erase a part of their past, regardless of whatever personal feelings I have, professionally I can't do that.
But after the monument was vandalized Tuesday — someone wrote "No" over the its bronze plaque — the cemetery decided to bring the issue to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A spokeswoman for the group's Long Beach chapter, who asked not to be named, told the LA Times that they decided to move it to prevent future vandalism.
"I was afraid to leave it overnight,” the spokeswoman told the paper. “We have had the cemetery remove it until we decide what to do." She denounced the Charlottesville violence, but also took Trump's "many sides" viewpoint. "We weep for the people who are involved in all of the things that are going on in our country — on both sides," she said. "We find hatred among white supremacists, we find hatred among Black Lives Matter."
The monument will be moved sometime within 24 hours of the Tuesday announcement and put into storage. The 30 graves and their grave markers will remain. Ultimately, this comes as a relief for the cemetery. They had already asked the group not to bring Confederate flags or guns to the property.
"I understood everyone’s frustration, but I really felt like it wasn’t our right to remove the monument," Cassity told the LA Times. "It’s kind of against what we’re supposed to be doing there, preserving history. I think they made a wise decision given how quickly it escalated and what’s happening right now in the country."
He's referring to the violence that broke out after a white supremacist protest in Charlottesville on Saturday. The protest was organized after the city decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. In LA, though, that was just another development in a contentious situation regarding the monument.
Most were unaware of the monument's existence until the Times ran an op-ed on the matter. After that, the cemetery received about 60 calls and emails a day. More than 1,600 people also signed a Change.org petition asking for it to be removed.