The Heyward Shepherd monument in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, was smeared with what appeared to be feces on Tuesday morning.
There have been many calls on social media for the statue, which sits nearby John Brown’s Fort, to be removed or vandalized in recent weeks.
Shepherd was a free black man and the first person killed during John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.
The monument was placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1931. It has been highly controversial due to their praise of black people who fought with the Confederate Army during the Civil War and the fact that there are arguments, with both sides basing their beliefs on anecdotal information, about whether he was a freed slave or had been born free.
According to West Virginia historians, in the aftermath of Shepherd’s death “some writers did not hesitate to speculate about or elaborate on Shepherd’s role in the raid. Immediately after the raid, one newspaper reported Shepherd was told of John Brown’s purpose but refused to join the raiders, thus suggesting his refusal to heed their orders showed his opposition to their goals. In a different vein, years later, a former resident of Harpers Ferry suggested Shepherd may have helped the raiders initially but later changed his mind when the danger and likelihood of failure became clear. Shepherd’s deathbed explanation that he went to the bridge in search of a missing railroad watchman suggests he was shot by men he did not recognize and whose purpose he did not know.”
The monument reads as follows:
“On the night of October 16, 1859, Heyward Shepherd, an industrious and respected colored freeman, was mortally wounded by John Brown’s raiders. In pursuance of his duties as an employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, he became the first victim of this attempted insurrection,” the text begins. “This boulder is erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a memorial to Heyward Shepherd, exemplifying the character and faithfulness of thousands of negros who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best in both races.”
Smeared over the words “erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans” appeared to be excrement. It did not look like the clay soil throughout the area.
Statues and reminders of our nation’s history have been destroyed all over the nation as part of the ongoing race riots, and many liberals on Twitter have been seeking to remind vandals that this statue exists. They have seemingly got, at least part of, the results that they were looking for.
Confederate sympathizers have long exploited Heyward Shepherd’s death to vilify radical abolitionism and promote the myth of the “happy slave.” This memorial is Lost Cause propaganda and it must be removed. https://t.co/crdLDZM1qV
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 5, 2020
Took a field trip to Harpers Ferry today. There’s an anti-John Brown monument erected by white Confederate memorial groups alngside a more recent display noting how the monument was opposed by a black woman on the day it debuted. pic.twitter.com/LqDDcbDhcb
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 1, 2020
stands. Whule unsettling, one promising thing is that NPS rangers have done an amazing job describing the racism associated w/the memorial on their guided tours.
TL;DR: Pearl was a badass. This memorial is terrible. NPS does a good job with the reality of U.S. history. /end
— Esther Lee (@EstherYuHsiLee) June 19, 2020
FYI there’s a Confederate “monument” at Harpers Ferry to “faithful slaves” that needs to go pic.twitter.com/xwFfOkG9wP
— Demand PPE for healthcare workers! (@mlawless9) June 12, 2020
Hey y’all. Here’s another monument that’s gotta go. It’s in Harpers Ferry, WV. Please share with your friends in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Hell, share with everyone. #BLM #CheckYourMonuments https://t.co/KJuMYfd2LL
— Pick an issue. Protest. 🆘 (@WeProtestThings) June 10, 2020
— 🦠🗽 Real GK 🗽🦠 (@GenKnoxx) June 11, 2020
Somebody go deface that monument in Harpers Ferry that thanks a enslaved person for remaining loyal to their owner during John Brown’s Raid!
— M (@mtheterrible) June 4, 2020
It does not appear that the vast majority of the activists calling for the statue’s removal live in West Virginia, let alone Harpers Ferry.
I live in Harpers Ferry. If they come the monument it won’t be ppl from wv doing it. Maybe some MDers would try but doubtful
— A Dam (@grntsiturbo) June 24, 2020
Other statues in the area, including one dedicated to John Brown that overlooks the Shepherd monument, were untouched.