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Statues Vandalized in NYC Day of Rage

New York City, May 6, 2024. In what they called a “Day of Rage,” pro-Palestinian agitators defaced two of New York City’s finest public sculptures, the107th Infantry Memorial and the William Tecumseh Sherman memorial, both located in New York’s Central Park.

On that day anti-Israel militants gathered at Hunter College in New York City for a march meant to disrupt the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fundraising Costume Ball, the Met Gala. The march was organized by the New York based anti-Israel group Within Our Lifetime (WOL).

I have to say, the angry mayhem in the streets was quite a surreal juxtaposition to the inane, self-absorbed, decadence of the Met Gala.

The pro-Hamas crowd of around 2,000 stormed down Fifth Avenue on their way to the Met. They blocked traffic at several points, and some two dozen were arrested by the New York Police Department. To prevent the mob from reaching the Met Gala the NYPD diverted it into Central Park and blocked the exit points. As night was falling the mob vandalized the sculptures.

At around 8 p.m. the first statue to be attacked was the 1926 bronze sculpture titled 107th Infantry Memorial, a work dedicated to the US soldiers who fought in WWI.

At the 107th Infantry Memorial the rabble climbed the statue to plaster it with dozens of stickers proclaiming “Free Palestine” and “Stop the Genocide.” A protester in keffiyeh climbed the statue with the intention of dangling a Palestinian flag on the sculpture—but was too hapless to figure out how. Others were not so inept.

This vandal spray painting “Gaza” over the memorial’s inscription, was later arrested by the NYPD on May 9, 2024. Photo: Screenshot from X video.

The granite pedestal supporting the statue was vandalized with spray paint. Using black spray paint someone graffitied “Gaza” over the artwork’s inscription. A young man using red paint also scrawled “Gaza” over the dedication. A young women wearing keffiyeh used a large permanent marker pen to daub “Free Palestine” on the granite.

To top things off, a young man in keffiyeh torched a US Flag while he stood in front of the statue. The mob chanted “Free, Free, Palestine!” while taking pictures of the burning American flag. Maybe the ruffians were ignorant of what the statue represented. Perhaps they knew, but couldn’t care less. Since the marauders were anti-American, either case isn’t surprising.

“107th Infantry Memorial.” Karl Illava. The statue on its pedestal. Photo: Brecht Bug / Creative Commons

The American sculptor Karl Illava (1889–1954) created the 107th Infantry Memorial. He was born in New Jersey as Karl Morningstar. He took the surname of Illava from his paternal Hungarian grandfather. At the age of sixteen Illava dedicated his life to art, and he studied under Gutzon Borglum, the American sculptor who created the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Karl Illava’s bronze statue depicts seven US soldiers from the 107th Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard of New York. Formerly known as the 7th New York Infantry, the Regiment was strengthened and given the 107th designation. In 1917 the 107th was drafted into federal service, and in 1918 it was shipped out to France were the regiment fought the German Army in the Ypres-Lys and Somme Offensive campaigns.

Karl Illava working on the plaster model of the “107th Infantry Memorial” before it was cast in bronze. Photographer unknown. Circa 1926.

When the 107th marched off to war in France in 1918, the young artist Karl Illava was among them; he rose to the rank of Sargent Major while in combat. After his return home, in 1926 the 107th Memorial Committee commissioned Illava to create a commemorative bronze statue for the regiment—the sculpture in Central Park was the result.

Having had a face to face look at the horrors of war, Illava’s artwork pulls no punches. It depicts the men on the Western Front who underwent trench warfare and merciless hand to hand combat. Three stoic looking soldiers are centered in the sculpture’s somewhat triangular composition. The leading soldier has lost his steel helmet as the trio rushes into battle clutching their M1917 Enfield battle rifles readied with fixed bayonets.

“107th Infantry Memorial” (detail). Karl Illava. Bronze statue. Photo: Brecht Bug / Creative Commons

To the left and right of the central trio, soldiers tend to wounded warriors. At right, one Doughboy helps a soldier whose head is wrapped in gauze. At left an infantryman holds onto a dying compatriot. Each soldier wears a bag around his neck containing a gas mask. The soldiers seem to be rising out of the fiery molten mass of war. Illava’s masterpiece is an emotive and powerful work that pays tribute to men who sacrificed their all.

Illava had his bronze statue cast in Italy. In preparation for its display in Central Park, it was anchored to a slab of bronze, which was then fixed upon a 25-foot-wide stepped pedestal built in the park to hold the sculpture. The pedestal was made of White granite from Jay, Maine, and was created by architects Rogers & Haneman. Chiseled into the granite pedestal is this inscription:

Seventh Regiment New York / One Hundred And Seventh United States Infantry / 1917 In Memoriam 1918.

The above dedication inscribed in granite, was the exact area where keffiyeh wearing know-nothings decided to spray paint.

Illava’s monument was unveiled and dedicated before a cheering crowd of thousands on Sept. 27, 1927. On May 6, 2024 pro-Palestine activists dishonored the 107th Infantry Regiment by vandalizing their monument and burning the flag of the United States.

I’m certain angels are blessing the men of the 107th… I know they’re scorning their foes.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (third from left) with assistants in his New Hampshire studio. They pose with the plaster model of the “William Tecumseh Sherman” statue before it was cast in bronze. Photo: National Park Service.

The second statue to be vandalized by the pro-Hamas mob on May 6 was William Tecumseh Sherman. The statue commemorates the Commanding General of the Union Army during the Civil War. General Sherman carved a trail of total destruction through Confederate states, and the expression “War is Hell” is attributed to him.

The statue portraying Sherman was created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907). The incomparable Saint-Gaudens remains one of America’s greatest sculptors. When General Sherman died in New York in 1891, Saint-Gaudens received a commissioned in 1892 to create a monument for the General. He worked on the monument for 10 years.

“William Tecumseh Sherman and the Genius of Victory.” Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Gilded Bronze. Photo: Axel Tschentscher / Creative Commons

Saint-Gaudens designed a work that depicted Sherman mounted upon a warhorse, but horse and rider were accompanied by an allegorical female figure the artist called the Genius of Victory; her right arm lifted to the heavens, she is armed only with a palm frond, traditional symbol of peace and eternal life.

“William Tecumseh Sherman and the Genius of Victory.” Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The gilded bronze in profile. Photo: Jim Henderson / Creative Commons

Saint-Gaudens had his statue cast in bronze at a foundry in France. At his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire, the sculptor and his assistants gilded the bronze equestrian statue with two layers of gold leaf, giving the magnificent sculpture an ethereal touch. Imagine this vision glimmering in the sun of a springtime Central Park. The statue would be the artist’s final major work.

The “William Tecumseh Sherman” statue being unveiled on Memorial Day, 1903. Photo: Robert Louis Bracklow (1849-1919). Courtesy New York Historical Society.

The statue’s base was designed by American architect Charles Follen McKim and it was constructed from pink granite. William Tecumseh Sherman was unveiled to the public on Memorial Day, May 30, 1903.

Of course, none of this mattered to the Day of Rage berserkers. They stumbled upon the Saint-Gaudens sculpture and immediately began to vandalize it. Some protesters slapped “Free Palestine” stickers on the statue’s pedestal, while others climbed the monument to affix stickers to the gold-gilded statue. Vandals used red spray paint to repeatedly graffiti the statue’s base with the slogan “Free Gaza.” A few climbed the statue to hang Palestinian banners on it.

Pro-Palestine vandals wrote on the statue’s base: “GAZA,” “NYPD KKK,” “F**K EMPIRE.” Photo: Anonymous. Source: Telegram.

In its May 6 coverage of the vandalism, the New York Post photographed the mob surrounding the statue and parading a poster. You’ll find that photo mid-way in the article with the innocuous caption: “Protestors gather at the General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument Monday night.” The online daily didn’t identify the man pictured on the placard, though his name was clearly emblazoned on it—Ahmad Sa’adat.

Ahmad Sa’adat is the Secretary-General of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In the late ‘60s the PFLP initiated a new form of terrorism, hijacking commercial passenger planes. The US, European Union, Canada, and Japan have designated the group a terrorist organization.

The PFLP has stated it “categorically refuses to recognize the Zionist entity” (Israel), and they reject the 1993 Oslo Accords that produced a peace process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). On Oct. 7, 2023, the PFLP participated in the murderous Hamas assault on Israel.

Before the vandalism of Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture could escalate, officers of the New York Police Department surrounded it, and pushed the crowd away. The NYPD brought in a ladder, so that officers could take down the Palestinian flags hung on the pedestal and the statue. Still, a professional clean-up crew would be needed to remove the spray paint from the base.

Pro-Hamas vandals spray painted on the statue’s base: “Free Gaza,” and “Free Palestine.” Photo: Anonymous. Source: Telegram.

I should mention that the work of Saint-Gaudens previously met the hellhounds of the left. I refer to his monumental bronze statue titled Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment. That work celebrates the Fifty-Fourth Regiment, a Union Army military unit of free black men who fought in the Civil War under the command of a white officer named Robert Gould Shaw.

The work stands at the edge of Boston Commons in Massachusetts. My wife and I were thrilled to view the statue on a 2019 visit to Boston. We were horrified to learn that on May 31, 2020 during the George Floyd “protests,” BLM vandals attacked and graffitied the statue. The backside of the monument was spray painted with epithets and slogans: “Black Lives Matter,” “BLM,” “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bastards), and F**K 12 (meaning F the Police).

The Day of Rage pro-Palestine march was organized by the New York based anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL). The Jewish Week, an independent  publication serving New York’s Jewish community, has called WOL “hardline” for echoing “Hamas talking points.” That’s difficult to refute.

On May 7, 2024, New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams held a press conference in front of the vandalized 107th Infantry Memorial. In the full press conference video I posted above, the major called the protesters “cowards” for vandalizing the statues mentioned in this essay. There are few things Mayor Adams has said and done that I agree with, but I’m going to have to stand with him on this one. Enough is enough.

At the press conference Mayor Adams announced a reward of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals that trashed the 107th Infantry Memorial and the William Tecumseh Sherman statue. Adams said: “I’m not just putting my money where my mouth is. I’m going to put my money where my heart is.” He means it. The reward was initially $10,000, but the Mayor added $5,000 out of own pocket.

To facilitate the arrest of the vandals, the NYPD printed some “street art” of their own… wanted posters that featured photos of the vandals, along with a TIPS phone number to file reports on them (800-577-TIPS). The police mounted the wanted posters on the streets surrounding the scene of the crime.

On May 9, 2024, a 16-year-old boy was arrested and charged with defacing the 107th Infantry Memorial. Specifically he was charged with making graffiti—a misdemeanor, and criminal mischief in the third degree—which is a felony. Here’s an apt colloquialism that sums up the arrest…

Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes.

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