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Monroe City Council votes to update General Custer statue

The downtown statue will not be removed or relocated but updated with help from several community partners to better reflect Custer's controversial life.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A push to relocate or remove the General George Custer statue in Monroe is moving forward, but with a compromise

City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to "update" the statue with more information about Custer's life, including some of the more controversial actions of his military career.

Community activists who started the petition to relocate the statue are pleased action is being taken.

"You can't change anything if you're not sitting at the tables and having a seat," petition creator Katybeth Davis said, "and showing up and being a part of the process."

Davis started the change.org petition last month to have the statue moved to a new location, such as the county museum, that could tell a more complete history of Custer's life. 

City Council voted this week instead to update the statue with help from the National Park service, the Native American community and several local partners, including the Monroe County Museum and the Monroe County Community College.

"Basically to have Custer's full entire history told at the site," Davis said. "The good with the bad. Other things too like Native American tributes, murals and stuff like that."

City planner Vincent Pastue said the conversation has been productive on both sides.

"The full story has to be told," he said. "And it's encouraging that free speech and elected representatives listening to that free speech, both pro and con, is how our society and democracy should function."

Davis said she considers herself an average everyday person. And this process has shown her that regular people can change things. She thinks their example can be an model for other controversial statues around the country.

"They're saying we're looters and rioters and stuff like that," she said. "We're doing it the exact opposite. We're doing it the most democratic way I've ever seen in the examples of other statues coming down all over the country."

To date, her online petition has over nearly 14,000 signatures. She said everyone in Monroe should feel comfortable where they live.

"I think that it's opened the door for everybody to reevaluate what's really the message of this town," she said, "what kind of message do we want it to be for future members of this town."

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