Exactly 123 years to the day that it was dedicated, the Shaw Memorial, a monument honoring the first all-volunteer black regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, was defaced by rioters demanding justice for African-Americans.
On May 31, 1897, the monument was erected on Boston Commons to honor the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who bravely attacked Confederate forces at Fort Wagner.
One of the soldiers, Sgt. William Harvey Carney carried the American flag throughout the battle, never dropping it despite being shot 7 times. Carney was the first black American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor for action.
Liz Vizza, the executive director overseeing the public garden where the monument is located, was shocked that a memorial to black soldiers was defaced by rioters. She noted that the black men who fought in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment were not only risking death, but also the potential of being enslaved if they had been captured.
“This monument is considered one of the nation’s greatest pieces of public art and the greatest piece to come out of the Civil War,” [Vizza] told WBUR-FM.
The backside of the monument honoring Carney and the 270 men who lost their lives in the battle is now covered with profane graffiti reading “ACAB” (All Cops Are B*stards), “F*** 12” (police), “BLM,” “No Justice, No Peace,” and “Police are Pigs.”
The exploits of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment were depicted in the 1989 Hollywood epic, “Glory.”