Leave Alexandria’s Protest Statue alone. Its dramatic art is ideal for current and future protests. Its placement is important too. Standing above the traffic at the intersection of Prince and Washington streets, it faces toward Washington’s home and family values. It pointedly turns away from the seat of our powerful and sometimes errant central government of which the name Washington personifies.
Our Protest Statue features no weapon; its head is bowed; shoulders sagging. It is a three-dimensional manifestation of unspoken disappointment. I believe the statue is depicted in this manner to emphasize the needless loss of lives. Others will find different meanings, but that’s the beauty of art. It’s supposed to affect you.
Dreamers brought here illegally as innocent babes in arms can use our Protest Statue to publicly register their opposition to possible forced deportation. The harassed can use it to object to the belittling verbal and real physical abuse they endure, especially in the workplace. Also, sensible people everywhere can use it to register their disdain for the erratic, crude deportment of our sitting president.
Alexandria taxpayers can embrace it as a symbol of their impotence when they seek redress at a city Planning Commission meeting or City Council forum. Students can use it to protest the crushing debt they will be inheriting because of their parents’ refusal to pay for the many services they demand from a Federal government long unable to live within its means.
The literalists will have us believe that our protest art statue endorses a cause, and removing it will purify history. For reasons that elude me, these literalists refuse to recognize, like the also divisive Vietnam War, our Protest Statue only recognizes the premature deaths of long ago Alexandria citizens.
Nevertheless, they want to move it at taxpayer expense from where it has been standing for over a century. Don’t be seduced. Our Protest Stature needs to remain in its symbolically powerful place. From this place, it can serve as an artistic statement for the aggrieved and for whatever they protest, now and in the future, a right accorded all Americans.