Statues Toppled After George Floyd's Death Return to Wisconsin Following $82K in Repairs

Two Wisconsin statues knocked down during last year's protests against police brutality and racial inequality were reinstalled Tuesday after undergoing restoration, the Associated Press reported.

While neither of the subjects of the statues was linked to a history of racism, demonstrators said that they falsely conveyed that the state is supportive of Black people and racial equity.

One of the toppled statues was a 9-foot-6-inch rendering of Col. Hans Christian Heg, an abolitionist in the state, and the other was a 7-foot statue of a woman meant to represent Wisconsin's "Forward" motto. Both were torn down in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd; the head and leg of Heg's statue broke off, while the other was dented and lost a finger.

The final cost of the restoration and reinstallation of the statues was projected to fall around $82,000, State Department of Administration spokeswoman Tatyana Warrick said Tuesday. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced in December that the state had obtained $60,000 in federal grant funds for the initiative, and Warrick said that the Wisconsin Historical Society raised money to help pay for the rest of the costs.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Wisconsin Statues Reinstalled
Two statues were reinstalled in Wisconsin Tuesday after being toppled during last year's protests against police brutality and racial inequality. Workers reinstall the statue of Wisconsin abolitionist Col. Hans Christian Heg outside the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Todd Richmond/AP Photo

The demonstration was among several that shook downtown Madison in the days after Floyd's death in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after white police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes.

Heg was a Norwegian immigrant who became an outspoken abolitionist. He served in the 15th Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863.

His statue, funded by the Norwegian Society of America, had stood outside the Capitol since 1926. Heg's descendants wanted the statue restored.

The "Forward" statue was a bronze replica of the one that represented Wisconsin at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Warrick said that the administration has submitted an insurance claim to cover at least some repair costs.

The reinstallations come as a task force works to erect a statue of Vel Phillips on the Capitol grounds. Phillips was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Law School, the first female judge in Milwaukee County and the first Black judge in Wisconsin. She died in 2018.

Warrick said the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board, which oversees maintenance and decorations at the Capitol and the governor's mansion, is expected to vote on the Phillips statue's final design and placement in October.

Forward Statue Restored
Protesters tore the 7-foot statue symbolizing Wisconsin's "Forward" motto down during a demonstration in June 2020 over George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Workers reinstalled the statue Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 outside the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Todd Richmond/AP Photo