Chicago official blames Trump for ‘disgraceful’ vandalism of Lincoln bust

Chicago official blames Trump for ‘disgraceful’ vandalism of Lincoln bust
A bust of President Abraham Lincoln in the predominantly-black Chicago neighborhood of West Englewood is the second monument of the 16th president to be vandalized in the US this week. And President Donald Trump is responsible, a Chicago alderman says.

The 91-year-old bust of Lincoln was found burnt and broken in Chicago, according to Alderman Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), who posted an image of the charred remains on his Facebook page Thursday.

“What an absolute disgraceful act of vandalism,” Lopez wrote in a post that has been shared nearly 10,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

Lopez thinks the statue was deliberately targeted for vandalism.

“I believe that what happened to Abraham Lincoln wasn’t just a random act of violence. It’s wasn’t just [plastered] with graffiti or tipped over. This was an intentional act to try to destroy this statue,” Lopez told the Chicago Sun Times.

“The fire was intense. The soot is baked onto it. There was some planning and some effort to try and destroy this bust, which has been in the community for almost 100 years now.”

Lopez said he has asked Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly for a copy of the city’s public art registry to help identify other statutes that could be in danger of being destroyed.

“I want to make sure we’re able to address this so we don’t have our own citizens taking to the streets trying to topple public art,” Lopez told the Times.

This is the second time in the past week that a statue of Lincoln has been vandalized. On Wednesday, the words "F*** law” were found scrawled in red spray paint on one of the columns at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

The vandalism follows a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned fatal last weekend when a man drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 people. White supremacists had descended on Charlottesville, allegedly to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Since the rally, several cities across the US have decided to remove Confederate monuments from public property.

Lopez thinks the vandals were emboldened by Trump when he blamed “both sides” for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville.

“When you have a president who, from his point of moral authority as leader of the free world, condones the actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, people who believe in a segregated society – when he refuses to refute what their actions are – you embolden people to continue,” Lopez told the Times.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump said the removal of “beautiful statues and monuments” honoring Confederate leaders was “foolish.”

“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” Trump tweeted.

At a news conference Tuesday, Trump criticized the removal of Confederate statues as “changing history” and “changing culture.”

“This week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after,” Trump said, according to a transcript from Politico. “You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

In response, Bishop James Dukes, a pastor at the Liberation Christian Center in Chicago, petitioned the state to rename two parks named after George Washington and Andrew Jackson – two US presidents who owned slaves.

"When my children and grandchildren walk through these parks and say, 'Grandfather, wasn't he a slave owner?' how do I explain that and how do I reconcile that with their views of what heroes are?" Dukes told WGN.

"I'm not trying to eradicate history," Dukes continued. "Let's put history where it belongs so it can be explained and taught properly."