City manager proclaims Newton Falls ‘sanctuary city’ for rejected statues of historic US figures

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"These great leaders...deserve to stand in a place of honor and respect as a reminder that we, as Americans, can achieve great things," the proclamation reads

NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – A wave of statue removals is happening across America. Most of the statues have been tied to the Confederacy, other removals have been debated. A community in the Valley wants to welcome those statues that might be brought down.

Newton Falls wants to be known as a sanctuary city for statues. City manager Dave Lynch is welcoming statues that are now being rejected by other cities throughout the U.S.

“Phone calls and emails are running 90% in favor of the proclamation. We feel pretty good about the decision,” he said.

“Proclamation: A proclamation declaring that Newton Falls is a Statuary Sanctuary City and declaring a general amnesty for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key, Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus as represented by the statues of these great leaders, and volunteering to accept these statues that have been removed throughout the U.S.A. and place them in a location of honor in our community.

Whereas the great leaders of our country and Western civilization, though flawed in many ways, have risen to great achievement, such as the founding of our nation, the ending of slavery, establishment and protection of our national parks, the establishment of antitrust laws to protect our citizens from overaggressive monopolization of industry and the discovery of the New World itself; and

Whereas these great leaders, as represented by beautiful and artistic statuary throughout our nation, deserve to stand in a place of honor and respect as a reminder that we, as Americans, can achieve great things.

Wherefore, I, David M. Lynch, as city manager for the City of Newton Falls, do hereby proclaim that Newton Falls shall be known as a Statuary Sanctuary City, welcoming statues rejected by other cities across the United States and also proclaiming a general amnesty for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key, Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus as represented by statues removed all across the United States, with the pledge to place the statues in a place of honor and respect to inspire greatness and achievement by all who observe them.

So proclaimed this 4th day of July, 2020.”

Newton Falls already has one statue — a not-exact replica of the Statue of Liberty. Some residents seem willing to accept more.

“Why let the people tear them down and destroy the history? It’s just not right,” Carl Crislip said.

Werner Lange does not want the statues to come to town. He started a petition Sunday on MoveOn.com.

“He’s the city manager, he’s not even elected. No one ever voted for him and we have over 350 people who say, ‘We declare that proclamation null and void,'” Lange said.

Newton Falls is known for its covered bridge and zip code. These statues could be another draw.

The city would accept one donated statue for each of the eight people on the list — former presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Grant and Roosevelt, as well as Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key and Christopher Columbus. It’s not looking to fill a warehouse.

“We want to put statues up because they’re great achievements,” Lynch said. “We know they have flaws. We know they made mistakes in their lives but what we want to do is honor their achievements.”

“We want that part of America to be known but not celebrated,” Lange said. “What we need to do is repent, not celebrate.”

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