Two Black history monuments were recently stolen from a park in rural Arkansas just days after the first African-American mayor took office, Arkansas Matters reported.
A wooden placard bearing Dr. Maya Angelou‘s name and a bronze bust honoring three Black men who served in the state legislature after the Civil War were taken from the town of Stamps over the weekend. It was not immediately clear whether the theft at Maya Angelou Memorial Park was racially motivated, said Mayor Brenda Davis. The incidents came at a time when protesters have called for the removal of Confederate monuments in several states.
The town expected to replace the monuments, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.
Davis, who was elected last month to lead the small south Arkansas town that Angelou once called home, said news of the theft brought tears.
“I don’t understand,” David explained. “I don’t know if it’s a message because I’m the first African-American woman as mayor. It makes you wonder, but I wouldn’t speculate.”
The bust alone was worth roughly $2,500, according to Davis.
Though Davis was unsure whether race placed a part in the theft, it looked as if it was racially motivated, said Lexi Fuller, a lifelong Stamps resident who lives across the street from the park from where the monuments were taken.
“As soon as she got elected, it happened,” Fuller said. “It’s just not right at all.”
Though the matter is quite serious, Davis, who is serving the unexpired term of Mayor David Ray Bright ending in December 2018, will not let it stop her from improving Stamps.
“Replacing it, moving on,” Davis said. “Not letting this get the best of us.”
The Arkansas Historic Commission has agreed to replace the stolen bust by January 2018. No word yet on plans to replace the Angelou placard.