Fed Up With Arizona's Confederate Monuments, Two Friends Decided To Redecorate

"Neither Cynthia nor I condone violence or vandalism and we both call upon the governor to take down the monument."

Dozens of Confederate monuments across the country have come down in the wake of last weekend's deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia that was sparked when various alt-right and white nationalist factions gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, but many more still remain in place.

Though Arizona Governor Doug Ducey condemned the attacks in Charlottesville that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, he also made it clear that Confederate monuments in his state are staying put for now. "It's important that people know our history," he told the Arizona Capitol Times on August 14 of his decision to keep the monuments in place. "I don't think we should try to hide our history."

Frustrated by Governor Ducey's lack of action, Rebecca Olsen McHood and Cynthia Lehigh decided to head to state capitol grounds in Phoenix on the evening of August 15 and pivot the narrative. Armed with colorful banners and streamers, the Gilbert, Arizona women turned the monument there from a symbol of oppression into a second-place trophy.

As you can see from the photos, the colorful banner in front of the monument for Confederate troops reads "2nd Place Participant," while a streamer near the top of the statute says "You lost, get over it."

Rebecca Olsen McHood
Rebecca Olsen McHood

"Neither Cynthia nor I condone violence or vandalism and we both call upon the governor to take down the monument," McHood (a lifelong Republican) told A Plus in a statement, noting there is also a petition circulating online to demand a hearing regarding the monument's future.

In a separate statement, Lehigh tells A Plus she decided to accompany McHood to Phoenix after watching the violent Unite the Right rally play out in Charlottesville. She was further motivated by President Trump's controversial response to the act of domestic terrorism, explaining, "I waited for him to reassure the nation with words about unity and love. Sadly, he failed to do so." 

She adds, "Not calling evil by name will only embolden those groups and fuel more violence."

Rebecca Olsen McHood
Rebecca Olsen McHood

To Lehigh, "redecorating" the monument was her way of taking action and showing strong disapproval. "The banner made me smile for the first time in three days. We placed it on the monument, took some photos, then joined the DACA celebration taking place on the capitol lawn," she explains. "I finally felt like I could breathe again." 

Not surprisingly, Lehigh tells A Plus she will also be protesting President Trump's scheduled rally in Phoenix next week, where many think he will pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Per CNN, in July Arpaio was found guilty of refusing to follow a judge's order barring him from racially profiling Latinos.

"In one way or another, we all have to stand up to hate," she said.

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