Protesters topple Forward statue and Heg statue

Protesters in Madison tear down the "Forward" statue near the capitol...
Protesters in Madison tear down the "Forward" statue near the capitol building. (WEAU)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 5:38 AM CDT
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Protesters brought down two downtown Madison statues as demonstrations that started early Tuesday afternoon raged late into the night.

The “Forward” statue outside of the Statehouse fell first. Protesters descended on the Madison landmark around 10:30 p.m. As some demonstrators formed a perimeter around the statue to keep anyone from approaching, others wrapped a harness around it and pulled it to the ground.

The statue is a replica of the one created by Menasha, Wisconsin, native Jean Pond Miner for 1893′s World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, she sculpted the “Forward” statue to symbolize the progress she felt Wisconsin represented. It was moved to Madison in 1895. The bronze replica that fell Tuesday night was installed in 1998 when the real one moved inside.

Not long after the Forward statue fell, protesters moved on to the one celebrating Hans Christian Heg and brought it down.

According to Historic Madison, Inc., the statue, which stood at the King Street corner near the Statehouse, paid tribute to the Civil War hero who created the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, the so-called Scandiavian Regiment. He was killed in September 1863, fighting the Confederates at the Battle of Chickmauga.

In 1920, Norwegian-Americans began the drive to raise $25,000 to build the statue and commissioned it four years later.

According to the Madison Police Department, during the overnight protests several windows were broken, including at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Glass could be seen shattered around the building early Wednesday morning. Police shared that some tried to force entry into the Capitol, with pepper spray deployed by officers on the inside to keep those individuals away.

MPD’s incident report also said that a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the City Council Building after windows were broken there.

The statues falling capped a day of protests that began after the arrest of a 28-year-old man outside a Capitol Square restaurant. Less than three hours after the arrest, demonstrators had gathered near the Dane Co. jail, speaking about the way in which officers arrested the man.

The protests accelerated after a man driving a white truck confronted the crowd. Police escorted him away and many on the scene noted the contrast between the initial arrest and this man being taken away.

WEAU's sister station in Madison has reached out to MPD to learn what happened to the driver and were told by the officer-in-charge that they have not produced an incident report yet.