by Mary Rupert
Marvin Robinson III noticed on Nov. 19 that there was damage to the John Brown statue near 27th and Sewell in Kansas City, Kansas.
The statue had been vandalized previously, and was restored in 2018, when a ceremony was held at the site in April 2018.
The vandalism comes during a time when the Quindaro Ruins are being developed into a historic site that may attract visitors who are interested in the history of the Underground Railroad. The area has been named the Quindaro Townsite National Commemorative Site. Quindaro is a pre-Civil War town on the Missouri River in Wyandotte County that was settled by Wyandot Indians, abolitionists and African-Americans.
According to Robinson, he had received calls about concerns at the Quindaro Ruins, Quindaro Cemetery and truck activity, and he asked the callers to contact the Unified Government, mayor’s office or commissioners’ office.
As he stopped to visit the John Brown Memorial on Nov. 19, Robinson saw that the scroll in the statue’s right hand, and part of the right hand, was gone.
It appeared to have been chiseled, according to Robinson.
“It traumatized me, it’s like everybody’s so busy throwing barriers and interceptors in the way of trying to get the archaeological foundations to be a non-priority,” Robinson wrote. He has supported more archaeological work to be done at the Quindaro Ruins.
“I just don’t get it,” Robinson stated about the reason behind the vandalism.
File photos from the Wyandotte Daily showed there was no scroll in the statue’s hand when a photo was taken of the statue on July 27, 2019. There was a scroll in the hand in a photo taken in April 2018 of the restored statue.
The nearby historic Quindaro Cemetery is also a concern for Robinson, who had received phone calls about it.
On Nov. 20, Robinson went to the Quindaro Cemetery and saw heavy equipment vehicles, a crane and bulldozer nearby.
According to Robinson, the road had sunk to almost the height of the Quindaro Creek.
Robinson had received photos from residents showing tombstones that had been tossed about, he stated.
A grave marker for James Milton Turner, a Union Army soldier, had been completely knocked over, he stated. A long unseen World War II veteran’s grave marker is now at the edge of a new road that has been cut through, he added.
He talked with a heavy equipment operator who had contracted with Phillips 66 to do pipeline maintenance, he stated.
“I was just trying to tell the contract worker, that just because it’s a cemetery, the people whose loved ones are buried here, still love their family members,” Robinson stated.
He stated he wants to ask Phillips 66 to meet with family members to address solutions.
The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department is investigating the possible vandalism to the John Brown statue, and is looking at whether it is new damage or damage from the year before, according to a spokesman.
Story and photos copyright 2019 by Mary Rupert