Nearly forgotten amid dust-ups over Richmond’s large array of Confederate statues and the city’s spiff-up for the UCI Road World Championships, one lonely statue is finally getting attention.
The long-neglected Richmond Police Memorial statue was erected in 1987 to commemorate 28 officers who died in the line of duty. But it deserves to be moved from the Nina F. Abady Festival Park downtown, says a committee led by a retired patrolman.
“We want it where there will be more sunshine and exposure,” says Glenwood W. Burley, who is leading the effort. His group has identified more than a dozen possible sites, including Forest Hill Park, the Carillon and the Virginia War Memorial.
The 8-and-a-half-foot tall statue depicts a patrolman holding a small girl who wears one shoe and clutches a teddy bear. When it was commissioned, it seemed to be in a good spot.
The park, at 412 N. Seventh St., used to be a throng of people and activity such as Friday Cheers, created by the late lawyer and community activist Nina F. Abady — in whose honor the park was named.
But events moved away. Cheers went to Brown’s Island. The park, trapped between the Coliseum and other large buildings, became a weed-choked haven for the homeless.
Burley, a 73-year-old who left the force in 1985 after 24 years of service, says he once asked the homeless why they were urinating near the statue when there were bushes nearby. “They said that’s where they sleep,” he says.
Chlorine posed another problem. When the city turned on its neglected irrigation system, chlorine in the city water tarnished the statue.
Burley’s group finally got action in May. The city cleaned up the area around the statue and pruned nearby bushes after Burley spoke during a City Council meeting.
He says the next step is choosing a new site. The statue was donated to the public by the Richmond Police Memorial Foundation, he says. The city would need to give its blessing to the statue’s transfer.
Burley says the committee isn’t seeking donations now, but that many people have offered support. He hopes the relocation can be organized before Thanksgiving.
The first officer memorialized by the statue died in 1869. The most recent died in 2003. Burley says he knew seven of the dead. “Two died in a car wreck and others were shot,” he says. “I live and breathe that we never let them be forgotten.”