A Chicago politician on Thursday blamed President Donald Trump for inciting the alt-right to damage a bust of Abraham Lincoln, despite at least one eyewitness saying locals were to blame.
Ald. Ray Lopez said that extremists emboldened by Trump's rhetoric following the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend had badly burned the nearly 100-year-old bust in West Englewood, a predominantly African-American community, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"When you have a president who, from his point of moral authority as leader of the free world, condones the actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, people who believe in a segregated society—when he refuses to refute what their actions are—you embolden people to continue," Lopez said.
"We know there have been issues in the past on the Southwest Side of Chicago, when you had the Nazi headquarters in Marquette Park, which is a stone’s throw away from where this bust is," he said.
But the Sun-Times spoke to a resident who says that he saw locals lighting fireworks off the bust on the Fourth of July and burning newspapers on top of it.
"You'd think people would appreciate it. They should appreciate it," said Christopher Jackson, 22. "Abraham Lincoln is Abraham Lincoln. He's one of the people who helped us. He freed the slaves."
Jackson said that most people in the neighborhood probably did not realize it was an Abraham Lincoln bust, due to how badly damaged it was even before it was burned.
"I didn't even know until just now," he said, "it's nose chipped off — just seemed like another aspect of a blighted community dotted with run-down buildings and boarded-up homes."
But Lopez contends that the bust was burned with the "intentional act to try to destroy this statue."
The alderman was not the only one trying to politicize the bust's destruction. Trump supporters on Twitter shared images of the bust claiming it was actually anti-Trump extremists.
So they defaced a statue of Abraham Lincoln, who was clearly against slavery? Some of y'all aren't educated. pic.twitter.com/bc2BDEPMXm
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) August 17, 2017
The latest target of the fascist left pic.twitter.com/x8vzDHFaF3
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) August 17, 2017