The first memorial was built in 1912.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday that a monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died at a Union prison camp in Indianapolis will be removed from a city park.

According to a news release, the monument was relocated a century ago from its original location at Greenlawn Cemetery to its current location in Garfield Park and will be dismantled by contractors in the coming days.

“Our streets are filled with voices of anger and anguish, testament to centuries of racism directed at Black Americans,” Hogsett said in a statement. “We must name these instances of discrimination and never forget our past – but we should not honor them. Whatever original purpose this grave marker might once have had, for far too long it has served as nothing more than a painful reminder of our state’s horrific embrace of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago.

Hogsett said he has long felt the grave monument belongs in a museum, not in a park.

He added that no organization has stepped forward to assume that responsibility.

“Time is up, and this grave marker will come down,” Hogsett said.

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The 35-foot monument was built in 1912 to commemorate 1,616 Confederate prisoners of war who died while imprisoned at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, according to archives from the IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network.

They died of sickness and starvation from 1862 to 1865 at Camp Morton.

An inscription on the monument reads: “Erected by the United States to mark the burial place of 1,616 Confederate soldiers and sailors who died here while prisoners of war and whose graves cannot now be identified.”

Officials said it was moved to Garfield Park in 1928 following efforts by public officials active in the KKK, who sought to “make the monument more visible to the public.”

The soldiers’ remains were moved to Crown Hill Cemetery, where a new monument marks their graves.

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson took to Twitter to express his support of the decision to remove the monument.

“While we must always remember our history, we should never glorify America’s history of racism,” Carson tweeted. “For Black people, these monuments to our legacy of bondage are particularly painful, & further prove how much work remains to reach equality.”

After nine black church members were gunned down by a white supremacist in a South Carolina church in 2015, a renewed push to remove Confederate memorials arose around the country.

That push gained more support in 2017 after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, fueled by the city’s proposal to remove Confederate statues there.

Days after the Charlottesville violence, a 30-year-old Indianapolis man was arrested for vandalizing the memorial in Garfield Park. 

That same year the Indianapolis Parks Board passed a resolution to remove the monument once funding was secured. 

Officials said the city is identifying a source of funding, with the expected cost of the project ranging from approximately $50,000 to $100,000.

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Follow IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack on Twitter: @justinlmack.

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