Confederate monuments to be removed

This monument to the region's Confederate troops, seen Monday, June 8, 2020, in Phoenix, sits in a public plaza adjacent to the state Capitol. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
This monument to the region’s Confederate troops, seen Monday, June 8, 2020, in Phoenix, sits in a public plaza adjacent to the state Capitol. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

The state is taking the first steps to remove two of the four controversial Confederate monuments on government property.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy has offered to take back the memorial it had placed across from the Capitol in 1961. That was at a time of increased activity in the civil rights movement.

That organization also will take possession of a stone marker currently located along U.S. 60 east of Mesa which marks the Jefferson Davis Highway.

Originally located in 1943 by the same group along what was U.S. 70 at Duncan, near the New Mexico border, the rock and granite market was moved in the 1960s, with state approval, to its current location, on Department of Transportation right of way.

The move, announced late Wednesday by Gov. Doug Ducey, gets him out of a sticky political situation — at least in part.

Two other monuments to the Confederacy remain on state property, one at Picacho Peak State Park and the other at the state cemetery in Sierra Vista. And the governor appears in no rush to deal with them.

“We haven’t made any determinations on those,” said press aide Patrick Ptak. “The owners of those monuments are free to contract the state, as was the case with these two,”

Ducey has for years resisted any calls to remove them, saying he sees nothing wrong with monuments to the Confederacy and those who fought for it remaining on state land.

“It’s not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials,” the governor said three years ago.

“It’s important that people know our history,” Ducey said. “I don’t think we should try to hide our history.”

More recently, in the wake of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the governor moderated his position — but only a bit. He said that any decision to remove the monuments should be a “public process.”

That, however, never materialized.

Instead, the removal was facilitated by three chapter presidents of the United Daughters of the Confederacy reaching out to Andy Tobin, head of the state Department of Administration, asking the state to return the items.

“These monuments were gifted to the state and are now in need of repair,” the letter states. “But due to the current political climate we believe it unwise to repair them where they are located.”

And the writers told Tobin that time is now an issue.

“It is the wish of the Arizona members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the (organization’s) Monument Restoration Committee that the state facilitate this re-gifting as swiftly as possible to avoid any further damage, vandalization or complete destruction,” the letter reads.

That is not an academic issue.

The memorial to Arizona Confederate Troops in Wesley Bolin Plaza, across from the Capitol, has been the site of demonstrations since the May 25 killing of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. It has been vandalized at least twice, once with white paint in 2017 and, more recently, doused with red paint.

And the marker for the Jefferson Davis Highway was tarred and feathered in 2017.

The arrangement deal does not end the controversy, with at least two more monuments remaining on state property.

One, erected about a decade ago, sits inside the state-run Veteran Cemetery in Sierra Vista. It’s inscription memorializes “Arizona’s Confederate veterans who sacrificed all in the struggle for independence and the constitutional right of self-government.”

It was placed by the Confederate Secret Service Camp 1710, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The other is at Picacho Peak State Park, the site of the only Civil War battle in what was then the territory of Arizona which the Confederacy claimed. It is inscribed as “dedicated to those Confederate frontiersmen who occupied Arizona Territory, Confederate States of America, created by President Jefferson Davis.”


Ducey stands ground on confederate monuments in wake of racial violence


Gov. Doug Ducey has no interest in removing any Confederate monuments on state land even in the wake of weekend violence after a racist demonstration in Virginia.

“It’s important that people know our history,” the governor told reporters Monday. “I don’t think we should try to hide our history.”

The governor, speaking after a publicity event in Buckeye, said he “100 percent condemned” groups like the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Many of those groups were involved in the demonstration in Virginia that later led to one sympathizer driving his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

And Ducey said that 70 percent of Arizonans have moved here from somewhere else.

“It’s a very welcoming place and I want to keep it that way,” he said.

But the governor said those who believe that memorials to the Confederacy don’t belong on public property and are linked to white supremacist violence should not look to him to lead the way to having them removed.

“It’s not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials,” Ducey said. He said anyone who thinks it’s inappropriate to have monuments on public land to Confederate soldiers or have a portion of a state highway named after Confederacy President Jefferson Davis should take their case to the boards that can change them.

Members of both boards tell Capitol Media Services they have gotten no such requests from the governor. And Ducey said he sees all this as “part of our history.”

“We fought the Civil War and the United States won the Civil War,” he said. “We freed the slaves and we followed up with civil rights after that.”

The governor’s comments about preserving history drew derision from Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen. He said the call has never been to eradicate all monuments that mention the Confederacy.

“The call has been to move away from having any Confederate monuments that are on state property,” he said.

“Any African American and many other individuals should not be required to use our taxpayer dollars to keep up with the upkeep and maintenance of these memorials,” Bolding said. He said that would be comparable to having monuments on public lands to those who fought for the Nazis.

The concerns go beyond the memorial placed across from the Capitol in 1961 by the Daughters of the Confederacy and to the road name and marker for Jefferson Davis Highway. Bolding said he questions even having a monument at Picacho Peak State Park which was the site of the westernmost battle of the Civil War.

“The Confederates, they were terrorists of their times,” he said.”These were people who were saying people who looked like me should not have equal rights, we should be slaves.”

Bolding called it “appalling to have those same people now be asked to not only have that monument on public lands but pay to keep it up.”

And there’s something else.

“I believe the governor has the ability to exhibit influence and leadership,” he said.

Bolding said he’s not even asking Ducey to personally lobby the members of the two panels at issue: The Legislative Governmental Mall Commission which decides what monuments go in the Wesley Bolin Memorial park across from the Capitol, and the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names which can place official names on mountains, rivers and roads.

“He absolutely has the ability to pick up the phone and reach out to these chairs (of these boards) and have them call a meeting,” he said.

Bolding said that lobbyist Kevin DeMenna, who chairs the mall commission, told him months ago he would convene a meeting in July.

“It’s August,” the lawmaker said. DeMenna did not return repeated calls to his office and cell phone.

Dennis Preisler, who chairs the names board, said no one has approached him about the Jefferson Davis Highway issue. But Preisler said it’s not like his board approved it in the first place, noting the name — and the monument placed astride the road — date back to 1943, decades before his board existed.

A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, however, said it’s not within the purview of his agency.

There are others, including a monument to Confederate soldiers at the state run Veteran Cemetery in Sierra Vista.

A spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Veterans Services said it is in a section of the cemetery where remains of those who fought in the Indian wars and Civil War were reburied after being dug up in Tucson. She said there also is a monument there to Union soldiers.

She said the one for the Confederacy, erected by a Sons of Confederacy chapter, is engraved “In memorial to Arizona Confederate veterans who sacrificed all in the struggle for independence and the constitutional right of self-government.” But she said there are no Confederate soldiers interred there.


Confederate monuments in Arizona:

— Memorial to Arizona Confederate troops, Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix

— Arizona Confederate veterans memorial, Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix

— Jefferson Davis Highway, monument along portion of U.S. 60 at Peralta Road, Apache Junction

— Arizona Confederate veterans memorial, Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Sierra Vista

— Battle of Picacho Pass monument, Picacho Peak State Park

— Monument at graves for the only Confederate soldiers killed in action, Dragoon Springs stagecoach station.















Geraldine ‘Gerae’ Peten: Newest lawmaker seeks to end ‘school-to-prison pipeline’

Cap Times Q&A

At a time when her party is fighting battles around school choice and public school funding, Rep. Geraldine “Gerae” Peten, D-Goodyear, the newest addition to the state House, may be just the ally Democrats needed.

Peten, appointed to replace former Rep. Jesus Rubalcava who resigned, holds a doctorate in education from Northern Arizona University, plus two master’s degrees in other areas. And she has a history in administrative roles. Those experiences have run the gamut of institutions, including as principal of Pinon Elementary School on the Navajo Nation and principal of Pinnacle Education, Inc., a charter school in Tempe, and they’ve shaped her perspective on a state she worries may be going back in time in more ways than one. Peten has worked as an education consultant for a firm based in Goodyear since 2003.

Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Obviously, education is a priority for you heading into the Legislature.

This state seems to fund charter schools more liberally than they do public schools. I feel that the funding is totally inadequate. We need to invest in education from kindergarten all the way through post-secondary. Just getting through high school isn’t enough. They also need either vocational, technical or college training, so they can get marketable jobs that will sustain a high quality of life and not be stuffed in that school-to-prison pipeline. That’s what I think happens. A personal example: When we moved here, my eldest son was in 11th grade, and he had six African-American friends who were in school with him at that time. He was the only one who graduated. The disproportionate number of African American boys and Hispanic boys who are suspended, expelled, whatever – all kinds of deterrents knock them out of school and into the prisons. It’s tragic.

Why do you think that is?

It’s called racism. People don’t like to say it, but it’s racism. Racial profiling – I don’t know how many times you’re stopped by the police a year. My son is stopped over 20 times just because he’s driving while black. It’s racism. We just need to admit it. You can’t work on a problem if you don’t admit that you have it.

How do you fight back in that case?

As you can see from my resume, my thing is to be well prepared, to be over-prepared in order to even get my foot in the door. That has worked for the most part. You just have to do the best you can with what you have and just go forward. When I first moved here as a single mom with two boys, practically every job I got I could’ve filed an EOC complaint. But when you are the head of your household and you have children, you have to choose your battles. Do you go to court and fight it, or do you find another job so you can support your children?

You have to survive. Honestly, when the civil rights law was passed in 1964, I was very gullible and naive and optimistic, I suppose. I thought that would pave the way, and everything would be fair and equitable. But it wasn’t. I think it lulled a lot of us into some sort of state of complacency.

Did what happened in Charlottesville surprise you?

No…  I almost feel like we’ve gone back 40 years. I felt at one point that we had made tremendous gains. We were talking about equity and diversity and honoring diversity. Now, that’s been pushed to the side.

What did you think of our president’s response?

I think he has a better speechwriter now… It wasn’t his authentic thoughts or beliefs. He shadowed what’s already been said. He’s not a peacemaker. His rhetoric usually incites anger. Like when he said there were good people on both sides. You’re telling me that white supremacy – there’s good in that?

When my youngest son started kindergarten, he had made a new friend. Six weeks into the year, he comes home distraught. He hated the school. He was never going back, and he was crying. I asked him what happened, and he said his newest best friend had told him that day, “I can’t play with you anymore because you’re a n*****.” His friend’s mom had come to pick him up and saw that their son’s best friend was an African-American kid. If you can imagine, those parents took that kid home that evening and taught him how to be racist. It just needs to stop. If you’re so embroiled in so much hatred, how can you make positive gains in your life?

What do you think should be done with Confederate monuments?

Those monuments were put up during the time of Jim Crow. They wanted to intimidate and keep African-Americans in their place with the threat of white supremacy. Why would you display hatred? They were fighting for slavery, so unless you are supporting the values of slavery and what it stood for, why should they be on public display? They should be in a museum, but they don’t need to be on public display.

So has the governor’s response not been satisfactory?

He hasn’t come right out and ordered them down, has he? Then, no. That’s what he needs to say. He’s toeing the line. That doesn’t help the climate in this country. It adds more fuel to the fire.

Your party is numerically on the losing side, except in rare instances involving a swing vote from across the aisle. Does that impact your outlook for what you can accomplish?

I hope we can work across the aisle and in a bipartisan manner. Some things are just humane or morally correct. We should all want children to have the best education possible. We should all want them to have a high-quality teacher, and we’re willing to pay them. It’s almost like we’re going back to apartheid schools. We’re becoming more segregated than we were, and that’s just not good for kids. It would be nice if we could get rid of the label. We’re all people, and we’re all here to improve the quality of life of all citizens. Most kids don’t think of themselves as political. Why should we have these political issues impact their lives?

GOP lawmaker calls for 10-year punishment for memorial vandals

Sylvia Allen
Sylvia Allen

The next time someone pours paint on, tars-and-feathers or tries to topple a monument somewhere in Arizona, one state lawmaker wants the vandal to face a prison sentence equivalent to child molesters and people who commit manslaughter.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, wrote in a Facebook post late last week that she plans to introduce legislation next year to ensure anyone who vandalizes or destroys a monument or statue can spend up to 10 years in prison. It pairs with a call from President Donald Trump to prosecute vandals to the full extent of the law, as widespread protests against police violence and systemic racism have resulted in statues toppling and being defaced across the world.

Allen did not return a request for comment.

If she does win re-election and introduce the bill, it would effectively raise vandalism of statues and monuments on public land from a misdemeanor or low-level felony, depending on the extent of damage, to one of the most serious felonies in the state’s criminal code.

In Arizona, Class 2 felonies carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Those include sexual molestation of a child, possessing dangerous drugs for sale, first-degree burglary with a firearm, and manslaughter. Only first- and second-degree murder are considered more serious offenses.

Criminal damage, meanwhile, ranges from a Class 1 misdemeanor — which carries penalties of up to 6 months in jail and $2,500 in fines — for damage less than $1,000, to a Class 4 felony with prison time of up to 3.75 years if the damage exceeds $10,000. A separate state statute governing abuse of venerated objects makes desecrating a public monument a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Defacing federal monuments to veterans already carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years under the Vetereans’ Memorial and Preservation Act of 2003.

The few instances of statue vandalism in Arizona have been relatively minor compared to damage done in other states. A 29-year-old man now faces charges for pouring red paint on a Confederate memorial at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in mid-June.

In 2017, days after a protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, ended with a man driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing a woman, people vandalized two Confederate monuments in Arizona. Someone spray-painted “BLM” at the base of the monument in Wesley Bolin Plaza, while a monument honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Apache Junction was covered in tar and chicken feathers.

Later in 2017, a statue of Christopher Columbus in north Phoenix was covered in red paint. Around the country, most — but not all — vandalism of statues and monuments has been targeted at depictions of historical figures with tainted, if not outright condemned, relationships with race. Confederate soldiers who fought to preserve slavery, founding fathers who owned slaves and white settlers who perpetuated abuses toward indigenous people have all had memorials defaced.

Allen, who would like to further criminalize vandalism of monuments, has also introduced legislation to create a memorial to Mormon pioneers shaped like the Lee’s Ferry Colorado River crossing that was an important spot for Mormons coming from Utah to Arizona — but glossing over the bloody history of the man who created that ferry, John D. Lee, who oversaw the massacre of about 120 members of a wagon party.

Her announced legislation comes as Democratic calls to remove Confederate monuments continue to be ignored. Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, has led that call for the past five years.

Bolding said vandalism is the wrong way to react to the monuments, but he also understands frustration when government leaders make it next to impossible to follow a process to remove the statues. When Bolding first called on Gov. Doug Ducey to remove memorials to the Confederacy, he was sent to a state board on geographical names, then referred to a separate board that no longer exists that dealt with monuments in Wesley Bolin Plaza.

Ducey has said in response to the latest round of cries to remove monuments to the Confederacy that he wants a “public process” to decide their fate, but offered no details into what that public process could or should look like.

“I think people are angry, rightfully so, when you have statues that endorse hate and racism,” Bolding said.

And increasing fines or other penalties for people taking a political stand isn’t the right way to go, Bolding said.

“It’s a horrible idea,” he said. “I think Sylvia Allen is playing to her constituency and trying to win some votes.”

New push on to remove Confederate monuments from state land

This monument to the region's Confederate troops, seen Monday, June 8, 2020, in Phoenix, sits in a public plaza adjacent to the state Capitol. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
This monument to the region’s Confederate troops, seen Monday, June 8, 2020, in Phoenix, sits in a public plaza adjacent to the state Capitol. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

New pressure is building on Gov. Doug Ducey to reverse his defense of having monuments to the Confederacy on state-owned property.

James McPherson
James McPherson

In a letter July 1, James McPherson III, president of the board of directors of the Arizona Preservation Foundation, reminded the governor of the calls in 2017 by many, including his organization, to remove the monuments following violence by white supremacists in Virginia.

“Unfortunately, nothing was done,” McPherson wrote.

Now, he told Ducey, it is time to finally deal with the issue “after yet another senseless killing of an African-American and the subsequent nationwide demonstrations seeking the elimination of systemic racism and bigotry.”

But the foundation is aiming its ire at more than just the monument to Confederate soldiers, erected in the 1960s, that sits across the street from the state Capitol. McPherson also is demanding removal from state property:

– A memorial to Confederate soldiers who fought for “independence and the constitutional right of self-government” that was erected about a decade ago in the state-run Veteran Cemetery in Sierra Vista;

– A plaque at Picacho Peak State Park, where the only Arizona battle of the Civil War was fought, dedicated to “Confederate frontiersmen who occupied Arizona Territory, Confederate State of America”’

– A monument marking the “Jefferson Davis Highway” sitting adjacent to Route 60 east of Mesa, erected in 1943 by the Daughters of the Confederacy Arizona.

Ducey, when first asked about these in 2017, defended them as helping people “know our history.”

“I don’t think we should try to hide our history,” he said. “It’s not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials.”

But McPherson now told Ducey that argument holds no water.

“The removal of these monuments will not ‘change’ history or ‘erase’ it,” he wrote. “What does change with such removals is what Arizona decides is worth of civic honor and recognition.”

Anyway, McPherson noted, it’s not like any of these were erected close to the time of the war.

Doug Ducey
Doug Ducey

The closest Ducey has come to acknowledging the controversy has come over the monument in Wesley Bolin Plaza across from the Capitol, the one that was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the beginning of the civil rights movement in 1961. Asked last month about new calls to remove that in the wake of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the only thing Ducey would say is that he did not want to make such a decision on his own.

“There is a public process to be able to put something into Wesley Bolin plaza or on state property,” the governor said. “I think there should be a public process if someone wants to go the alternative route.”

But it was Ducey who signed legislation in 2018 abolishing the Capitol Mall Commission that until then had the power to decide what went into – and what came out – of the plaza. That law now gives the power of removal exclusively to Andy Tobin, the governor’s hand-picked director of the Department of Administration.

And the other three monuments are under the purview of state agencies whose directors report to the governor.

On July 1, aides to Ducey refused to comment on McPherson’s letter or the whole issue of the monuments.

But it hasn’t just been the governor defending their presence.

Nicole Baker, spokeswoman for Wanda Wright, director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, said the monument in Sierra Vista is at the entrance to what she called a “cemetery within a cemetery.” These contain remains which originally were buried in the old military cemetery that served Fort Lowell in the late 1800s but were moved to Sierra Vista.

Baker said each of the tombstones is labeled “unknown” because of the lack of DNA to identify remains. But she said that this section covers all who served in any fashion from the 1860s through the 1880s.

The stone marker in question was erected by the Confederate Secret Service Camp 1710, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“While we can’t erase our nation’s history, we can certainly learn from it and help future generations plot the way forward,” Baker said.

McPherson has a different take.

“These monuments celebrate and promote bigotry and racism,” he wrote to Ducey. “They are devoid of true Arizona history and their very presence continues to hurt our African-American friends, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers we may meet on the bus, at the lunch counter, or on a march for justice.”

The current controversy mirrors what happened three years ago when Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, led the drive to remove Confederate monuments from state property.

“Any African-American and many other individuals should not be required to use our taxpayer dollars to keep up with the upkeep and maintenance of these memorials,” he said at the time. Bolding said that would be comparable to having monuments on public lands to those who fought for the Nazis.

While the monuments all remain, Bolding did win a victory of sorts at the time.

In fighting to have the marker for the Jefferson Davis Highway removed, Bolding also pushed to have any reference to it scrubbed from state maps.

But John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, said there was no need for that because as far as his agency is concerned it no longer exists.

Halikowski acknowledged that the Arizona Highway Commission voted in 1961 to designate U.S. 80 through Arizona as the “Jefferson Davis National Highway.” Davis was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, and Arizona was one of 15 states to adopt the highway name.

But he pointed out to the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names that U.S. 80 no longer exists, with the same stretch of road now bearing other route numbers. And he said once U.S. 80 disappeared, so did the designation.

At the same time, however, ADOT has allowed the monument to remain on state right of way, with an agency spokesman saying it is “not an immediate safety hazard,” meaning there are no safety reasons to remove it.

That rock and granite marker originally was located along U.S. 70 at Duncan, near the New Mexico border. It was moved to its current location in the 1960s with state approval.