Colorado’s governor is warning protesters that “destruction and vandalism are not the answer” after three suspects were arrested in connection to a fire set to a pedestal of a toppled Civil War monument outside the State Capitol building.
The statue – which honors Colorado’s fallen Civil War soldiers — was first knocked over by a group of demonstrators Thursday before being removed from the area, police told KUSA. Then late Saturday night, the pedestal where it once stood was set on fire – although the blaze resulted in minimal damage, Denver’s Fire Department adds.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to have an open and honest conversation about our history. Destruction and vandalism are not the answer,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. “To be clear, no matter what your feelings about public art, our state respects the rule of law and there are proper legal channels for reflection, conversation, and change.”
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Polis said no one has been taken into custody yet for toppling the statue, but he announced three arrests over the fire incident.
“Good news: Three suspects have been apprehended and we hope this also provides a breakthrough into other ongoing investigations regarding destruction of public property,” he added.
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One of the suspects was identified as Trayvelle Walker, 22, who is being charged with second-degree arson, KUSA reported, citing Denver Police.
The statue, built in 1907, comprises of a Union cavalryman holding a rifle, with the names of those who died listed underneath. A plaque was added to it in 1999 denoting the First and Third Colorado Cavalries’ involvement in what has become known as the Sand Creek Massacre, in which both units attacked a camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, killing 150 – including women, children and the elderly, according to KDVR.