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'Forward,' Hans Christian Heg statues restored outside of State Capitol

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MADISON, Wis. — Two statues that were torn down during a protest last summer have returned to their homes outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

The statues of “Forward” and Col. Hans Christian Heg were torn down the night of June 23 during a protest initially sparked by the arrest of a Madison activist.

After the statues were toppled, some protesters said they tore them down because they represented a false sense of forward progress.

“We’re not moving forward, we’re moving backwards,” Ebony Anderson-Carter, an activist, said at the time. “This (statue) doesn’t need to be here until we’re ready to move forward.”

One man was ultimately arrested and charged with two felony counts of criminal damage to property as party to a crime for his alleged involvement in tearing down the statues.

The estimated repair costs for “Forward” statue were estimated to be between $30,000 and $45,000. Costs to repair the Heg statue were estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000. In December of last year, the state announced the Department of Administration had been awarded a combined $60,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts to put toward restoration efforts.

In the wake of the protests and amid claims that the statues outside of the Capitol didn’t accurately represent the state’s “Forward” motto, some community members began lobbying to install a statue of Vel Philips, Wisconsin’s first Black judge, outside the building.

As of late April, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County had raised $300,000 to put toward the project, surpassing the organization’s goal of $250,000. BGCDC CEO Michael Johnson previously said he hoped the statue would be up by the end of 2021.

Earlier this summer, the state Capitol and Executive Residence Board subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend setting up a statue on the south side of the Capitol building.

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