Protesters tear down statues near state Capitol

Forward, Hans Christian Heg statues were removed from pedestals Tuesday night

The Forward statue stands in State Street during the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 24. (Shawn Johnson / WPR)

Two statues were pulled down by protesters and a state senator was attacked during a demonstration around the state Capitol in Madison on Tuesday, June 23.

The protests followed the arrest of a Black man who was at a nearby restaurant with a megaphone and a baseball bat. Video released by the Madison Police Department showed the man talking through the megaphone Tuesday while walking near the restaurant’s outdoor patio. He goes inside and said he was "disturbing" the restaurant. After leaving the restaurant, officers arrested the man.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that late Tuesday Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter was assaulted after taking a photo of protesters.

The two statues — the Forward statue, located on the west entrance to Capitol Square at the end of State Street, and the Hans Christian Heg statue, located on the east entrance of the Capitol at the King Street corner of the square — were removed from their pedestals.

Protesters took the Heg statue and dumped it in Lake Monona, almost a half-mile from where it was toppled at Capitol Square.


The Heg statue was apparently dumped in Lake Monona in Madison on Tuesday, June 23. (Shawn Johnson / WPR)

The Forward statue was knocked from its pedestal and as of early Wednesday morning, was about a block from the state Capitol in the middle of the street.

Early Wednesday morning, protesters continued to face off against police about a block from the Capitol. Officers played a recorded message on a loop telling the crowd they're an unlawful gathering. The crowd responded with chanting.

Eventually, the crowd thinned out and police left the area.

The unrest followed weeks of mostly peaceful protests of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Statues Have Stood Near Capitol For Decades

The current Forward statue is a bronze replica of the original Forward statue, which was initially commissioned in 1893.

Dan Stephans, the retired chief state architect, gave a lecture in July 2017 on PBS Wisconsin's " University Place " about the sculptures and murals around the Capitol and talked about the history of the Forward statue. He said sculptor and Madison native Jean Miner created the first statue in 1895. The original statue was moved indoors to preserve it and taken to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1998, according to the society's website.


The pedestal where a statue of Hans Christian Heg was removed by protesters near the state Capitol on Tuesday, June 23. (Shawn Johnson / WPR)

WisContext reported on Stephans' lecture:

Jean Miner designed "Forward," an allegorical bronze statue of a woman raising her right arm as a symbol of progress. Completed at the World's Columbian Exposition, the statue was originally placed outside the east entrance of the previous Capitol building in 1895. It was moved to a position outside the North Hamilton St. entrance of the new Capitol building in 1916 and remained in place there until 1995. After 80 years of weathering, the original statue was restored and placed inside the Wisconsin Historical Society building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Library Mall in 1998. Often confused with "Wisconsin," a replica was cast and placed in front of the west entrance of the Capitol facing State Street. Miner was born in Menasha and remained active in sculpting until her death at 101.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at .

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