Chanting “Shame on Seattle” and “Tear it Down,” a crowd of Trump supporters surrounded the Lenin statue in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.
A live video feed on the Facebook page for Washington State for Donald Trump 2016 shows the crowd holding signs and talking with passersby about why the Lenin statue should go, arguing that it has no place in America and that Lenin killed millions of people. They said the statue represents hatred and bigotry while also saying they disavow the “tyranny” of the “alt left” and “leftist violence.”
“This extremism should not be allowed in our country,” one Trump supporter says on the video. “If we disavow Nazism, we should disavow Marxism as well.”
Trump supporters continued to chant “Stop alt left hate” and “Lenin is Hitler.”
Some Fremont residents countered their arguments.
“It’s Fremont. It’s satire. It was found in a junk yard,” said one man passing by.
“Fremont makes fun of things,” he said. “We are making fun of him … We make fun of Trump. We make fun of Obama. We make fun of Hillary.”
The following Facebook live feed contains some mature language.
Some interactions around the statue on Wednesday spiraled into yelling matches. But many conversations between Trump supporters and residents were tense but friendly; most agreeing in the right to free speech. Many parted ways with a handshake or a hug.
The demonstration comes as attention is drawn to many historical statues throughout America. A rally around a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va. led to a white supremacist allegedly driving his car through a crowd of counter protestors, killing one woman and injuring many others.
History of the Fremont Lenin statue
Fremont’s website states:
It is unique. We believe it is the only representation portraying Lenin surrounded by guns and flames instead of holding a book or waving his hat. The sculptor, while fulfilling the requirements of his state commission, was nevertheless able to express his vision of Lenin as a violent revolutionary; not just an intellectual and theoretician.
The statue was removed during the revolution in 1989. Lewis Carpenter, an American veteran who once taught in Poprad, admired the statue. He mortgaged his Issaquah home to pay for it to be shipped to America. It now stands on private property in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
The Fremont website also comments on the political relevance of the statue:
The presence of this sculpture has evoked a wide range of responses. If art is supposed to make us feel, not just feel good, then this sculpture is a successful work of art. The challenge is to understand that this piece means different things to different people and to learn to listen to each other and respect different opinions. From an artists standpoint, all points of view are valid and important.
This sculpture is placed here in the Artist’s Republic of Fremont, as a symbol of an artistic spirit that outlasts regimes and ideologies, and as tangible proof that art does outlive politics.
Shortly after the pro-Trump demonstration, a man and a woman came to the statue to hold a counter demonstration in support of it. It attracted more people to gather. Trump supporters filmed this interaction as well. The discourse is more vulgar in this video, so MyNorthwest is not including it here. You can view the video on the Washington State for Donald Trump 2016 Facebook page.