Who are 'White Lies Matter’? Meet the Group that Says it Turned a Stolen Confederate Memorial into a ToiletBreaking News
tags: memorials, Confederacy, monuments, vandalism, public history, Protest
The email arrived Wednesday evening with the subject line, “Jefferson Davis Chair: Update.” The sender was WLM, the acronym for a mysterious group calling itself “White Lies Matter.”
The group, which claims responsibility for stealing a Confederate monument from a Selma, Ala., cemetery last month, sent photos to the media that show a man dressed in a Civil War-era Union Army costume appearing to use the chair as a toilet.
The group had threatened to do just that unless the United Daughters of the Confederacy displayed a banner with a quote from a Black radical on its Richmond, Va., headquarters on Friday.
In an interview with The Washington Post, an anonymous spokesman for the group said the UDC can expect to learn where its stolen chair is on Thursday.
“We have every intention of giving the chair back,” the spokesman said late Wednesday. “You know, we already cleaned it, we already got all the moss off of it, took a bunch of brushes to it, made it nice and pretty.”
The spokesman, who spoke with a Southern accent that he later admitted was fake, said the group decided to move up the date of the toilet conversion after it became clear the UDC wasn’t going to comply with its demands.
They stole the chair from the Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Ala., on March 19, according to authorities, who are investigating the theft. The UDC told police the chair is worth $500,000.
The UDC has not responded to multiple requests for comment. But Patricia Godwin, a longtime member of the group in Selma, told the Associated Press the chair is more than a century old.
“They need to return the chair,” she said. “It’s grand theft.”
In a 20-minute phone call, the spokesman said White Lies Matter is a diffuse anti-racist group with no “head honcho,” that they found out about the chair from a book they purchased at a Lost Cause memorabilia store, and that while they hope to do other actions like this, there is a line they won’t cross.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
So my first question is why did you decide to do this?
Are you asking why did we decide to turn it into a toilet, or why did—
Why did you decide to steal the chair and turn it into a toilet?
UDC has a complicated history in this country, and we’ve been looking at them for quite some time. And of course last summer, everything that happened with George Floyd reignited this conversation about Confederate monuments in America. And one thing we really wanted to do, to highlight, is that groups like the UDC and people with the same ideology and beliefs, they tend to care more about things than people. If you look at the Black Lives Matter movement, if you look at the civil rights movement, if you look at any time in history in the South particularly, when people are putting their lives on the line, there are always these groups like the UDC, and just normal civilians from the South, they have a tendency to pick objects ... over that of human life and over the needs of human beings, whether it’s the right to vote, or the right to have your neck not kneeled on for nine minutes.